Since 1984 abortion has been allowed in the Netherlands, subject to the provisions of the Termination of Pregnancy Act. The aim of this Act is to balance two potentially conflicting interests: On the one hand protecting the life of the unborn child, and on the other helping women who are in a difficult position as a result of an unwanted pregnancy. This Act includes five provisions:
Besides, it is questionable to what extend there is public support for this time limit of 24 week. An online study from the NPV about opinions on abortion showed that in a representative group of 518 Dutch people, 47% indicated that they did not know what time limit there is for abortion. In this study participants were also asked to indicate what they think the time limit for abortion is in the Netherlands. Only 14% indicated 24 weeks. 81% indicated that it is than 24 weeks and most of the participants thought that the time limit is 12 weeks. When asked whether the limit for abortion should be 24 weeks, 37% if the participants agreed while 40% were neutral and 22% disagreed. The Netherlands is the only country in Europe with a limit of 24 weeks. Other European countries maintain lower limits. The NPV is of the opinion that the abortion limit of 24 weeks is no longer tenable and should be lowered, given the latest findings.
Another point of discussion is the five-day consideration time to enable women to carefully reflect on their decision. In the online study about abortion 62% agreed with this mandatory time of consideration. In the public and political debate, opponents of the mandatory consideration time of five days argue that it is up to the woman how much time she needs to reflect on the decision. But the NPV thinks that there are good reasons to maintain the five days of consideration time, in order to protect the unborn child, emphasize well-considered decision-making, promote equality in caregiving and prioritize carefulness. Therefore, the NPV wrote a letter (Dutch) to the committee of the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport (VWS) to critically consider the proposal to set aside this provision.
God is the Giver of life. The Bible shows that this also counts for unborn lives, in Psalm 139:5 or Jeremiah 1:5. God knows every human being, even before birth. In the same way, we should value and cherish life and care for it. This is incompatible with abortion where vulnerable unborn life is terminated.
At the same time, it is important to realize that women have personal reasons to opt for abortion. They might have to deal with painful circumstances or have a difficult personal history. But the question is whether abortion is the best solution. The NPV emphasizes the search for alternative solutions to help mother and child.
To prevent the negative consequences of abortion women should receive complete information. In practice, only 42% of the physicians discuss alternatives for abortion with women. The NPV thinks that every woman should learn about these alternatives. We advocate counseling that considers women’s personal situations. A woman should know what help is available when she decides to carry the pregnancy to term and keeps her child.
A few women have to undergo an abortion because of medical reasons and high risks to their health. Medical reasons for abortion include preeclampsia or an ectopic pregnancy. An ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg implants itself outside of the womb.
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