Doctors challenge health minister over abortion pill law



Doctors and pro-abortion campaigners are taking the health insurance ministry to court for failing to provide clear guidelines about the use of a pill which triggers early miscarriage, according to medical journal Medisch Contact.

The doctors disagree with the health inspectorate which says doctors cannot prescribe the pill until the law has changed because they would be committing a criminal offence.

Health minister Edith Schippers told parliament in June she plans to introduce legislation which will allow GPs to prescribe the pill at the end of the year. The pill is currently only available in hospitals and abortion clinics.

Although the pill can be used up to nine weeks into a pregnancy, experts say doctors should be limited to prescribing the pill up to six weeks and two days – or when women are two weeks late with their period.

There are some 30,300 abortions in the Netherlands a year, and over half take place in the first seven weeks of pregnancy. The Netherlands has one of the lowest abortion rates in the world, at 8.5 per 1,000 women.

According to Medisch Contact, the case will be heard at the end of this month or in early October.