Abortion Laws in Netherlands
|Law on the termination of pregnancy, 1981; Decree of 17 May 1984.
|Location of Services
|Licensed hospital or clinic; detailed requirements for clinics are set forth.
NETHERLANDS. Law on the termination of pregnancy of 1 May 1981.
Section 1. (1) [Definitions].
(2) For the purposes of this Law or provisions made pursuant to it, the words
“termination of pregnancy” shall not mean the application of a method to prevent the nidation of a fertilized ovum in the uterus.
(3) For the application of the provisions of this Law, a Physician
Director also means the physician who, although there is no position of
Director, is responsible for the general course of affairs in the medical area of the establishment.
Section 2. Treatment intended to terminate pregnancy may be carried out only by a physician in a hospital or clinic licensed by our Minister to provide such treatment.
Section 3. (1) A pregnancy shall be terminated not earlier than the sixth day after the woman has consulted the physician and on that occasion discussed her intention with him.
(2) When the physician who regularly provides treatment to the woman, or who is active as a specialist or as the family doctor of the woman’s residence has through informing her of his findings referred her to a hospital or clinic in terms of Article 2, the period of time begins to run in which the woman consults her physician and discusses her intention with him.
(3) The physician shall inform the woman as quickly as possible whether he will provide her with the assistance sought. In the case of a physician referred to in paragraph 1, he shall inform her in all cases at the latest within five days after she has consulted him and usually at the latest within three days.
(4) The period referred to in paragraph 1 shall be shortened by one day if the physician referred to in paragraph 2 takes three days after she has consulted him to inform her that he will not refer her.
(5) In cases in which the physician does not refer the woman, he shall immediately give her a dated written statement of this that in all cases shall not the time at which she consulted him.
Section 4. (1) The license referred to in Article 2 shall be applied for by the Board of Directors of the hospital or clinic. Facts required by a general Kingdom regulation shall be provided in the application. If the
Minister is of the opinion that further information is necessary in order for a responsible decision on the application, he may require further information.
(2) The Minister shall make a decision within seven months of receiving the application.
(3) The hospital or clinic shall receive a license if it is substantiated that the requirements of Section 5(1) and Section 6 are met.
Section 5. (1) General administrative regulations shall be issued setting forth conditions governing the provision of assistance and the reaching of decisions designed to ensure that any decision to terminate a pregnancy is taken carefully and is reached only if the distress in which the woman finds herself leaves no other choice.
(2) In particular, the conditions referred to are designed to ensure:
a) that the woman who intends to terminate her pregnancy and has approached a physician with a request to this effect is given assistance, particularly through the provision of sound information regarding ways of dealing with her distressed situation other than termination of pregnancy;
b) that, if the woman is of the opinion that there is no other way to end her distressed situation, the physician is satisfied that the woman has submitted and upheld her request of her own free will, after careful consideration and in full awareness of her responsibilities towards the unborn child and of the consequences to herself and those nearest her;
c) that, without prejudice to the provisions of Section 20, the physician provides the treatment only if it can be considered justifiable on the basis of his findings; and
d) that, following termination of the pregnancy, the woman and those nearest to her have access to adequate aftercare, including information regarding methods of preventing unwanted pregnancies.
Sections 6. (1) A license shall otherwise only be issued to a clinic if:
a) the clinic is directed by a non-profit body corporate with full legal authority;
b) the requirements set forth in a general Kingdom regulation are met with respect to the Board of Directors and administration of the clinic, organization, mode of operation, personnel, plant, and equipment, so that is guaranteed that therapeutic standards from the medical and care perspective are sufficient, as well as the composition of the Board of Directors.
c) the clinic collaborates with one of more hospitals in the treatment of abortions according to rules set forth in a general Kingdom regulation;
d) the statement of accounts is managed through the Central Authority of
Hospital Tariffs or another Authority specified by the Minister;
e) the legal authority that administers the clinic prepares a yearly report on the operation of medical and financial areas in the preceding year and makes this report generally accessible;
f) The legal authority that administers the clinic and is not a public corporation, by virtue of the by-laws, has the year’s accounts examined by an accountant as approved in Article 393 (1) of Book II of the Civil Code and receives a certification.
(2) The license relates only to the termination in a clinic of pregnancies of longer than thirteen weeks duration if more detailed regulations of a medical and care nature are set forth in a general Kingdom ordinance referred to in paragraph 1 (b) and (c).
Section 7. The Minister may, if special circumstances of an establishment warrant, condition the license on further provisions or partially change, enlarge, or add to them. The provisions shall only have relation to conditions in so far as they are set out by virtue of Sections 5 and 6.
Section 8. (1) The Minister may withdraw a license:
a) if false information has been that leads to the issuance of a license;
b) if provisions that are set forth through or by reason of this Law or that are conditioned on the license are violated.
Section 9. (1) The decision shall establish the time at which the license, the withdrawal of the license, changed, enlarged, or withdrawn provisions on which the license is conditioned go into effect.
(2) The issuance or withdrawal of a license shall be reported in the
Netherlands State Gazette.
Section 10. (1) During the investigation of facts on the ground of which a license may be withdrawn according to Section 8(1), the Minister may order that treatment that is directed at abortions in an establishment is immediately stopped.
(2) The order shall remain in force until that time at which a decision to withdraw a license is made, that is the time at which the withdrawal goes into effect, subject to an earlier nullification of the order by the Minister.
(3) The order, as well as the nullification of the order shall be communicated in writing. Article 9 (1) and (2) are applicable.
Section 11. (1) Any physician who provides treatment intended to terminate pregnancy shall communicate the following data to the chief physician of the establishment at least once a month:
a) the number of instances of treatment intended to terminate pregnancy that he has provided over the period concerned, and any unusual occurrences that have arisen in connexion with them;
b) in respect of each woman treated, the duration of the pregnancy, the number of previous pregnancies and pregnancy terminations, her age, her province or, in the case of women living outside the Netherlands, her country of residence, her marital status, and the number of her children; and
c) the date on which he discussed the woman’s intention with her, and, if the woman has been referred by a physician as referred to in subsection 2 of
Section 3, the time referred to in that subsection and the medical capacity in which he offered the woman assistance; the question of whether other experts have been consulted, and if so in which cases, as well as the nature of the expert qualifications of the person consulted; the date of the termination procedure, provided that, in the case referred to in subsection 2 of Section
16,the special reasons are indicated; and the aftercare made available to the woman after the pregnancy termination.
(2) The chief physician of the establishment shall ensure that all physicians employed in the establishment submit the data referred to in subsection 1 to him in full and in good time, in such a manner that the data cannot be trace3d back to individual patients. He shall ensure that the data are retained for at least five years.
(3) Every three months, the chief physician shall submit to the inspector details of the totals derived from the data referred to in the preceding subsections.
(4) Detailed rules shall be l aid down by or under general administrative regulations regarding the times at which and the manner in which the data referred to in the preceding subsections of this Section are to be submitted.
The anonymity of the woman treated must be ensured whenever such data are provided.
(5) The data obtained may be used only:
a) for statistical purposes; and
b) in connexion with the supervision of compliance with this Law or the provisions made pursuant to it.
(6) The physician referred to in subsection 1 shall likewise ensure that before the treatment, or as soon as possible after it, the findings which led to the treatment are recorded. He shall be required to retain such records for at least five years and to keep the data contained in them at the disposal of the inspector, provided that they are not traceable to individual patients.
Section 12. The chief physician of the establishment shall ensure that the inspector obtains access upon request to the data referred to in subsection 2 of Section 11 and that such information as he may request and which he reasonably requires in order to fulfil his duties under this Law is made available to him, provided that such information is not traceable to individual patients.
Section 13. (1) General administrative regulations as referred to in subsection 1 of Section 4, subsection 1 of Section 5, items (b) and (c) of subsection 1 of Section 6, and subsection 4 of Section 11 shall be drawn up at the instigation of our Minister.
(2) Such regulations shall enter into force only after three months have elapsed following their promulgation. Our Minister shall inform the States-General of the date of promulgation, due consideration being given to the opinions expressed concerning the draft of the regulations.
Section 14. Any person who, in carrying out the provisions of this Law, obtains access to data whose confidential character is known to him or may reasonably be assumed by him shall be obliged to maintain secrecy concerning them, except insofar as other provisions are applicable on account of the office which he holds.
Section 15. A physician who provides treatment designed to terminate pregnancy in a clinic, other than a clinic which meets the conditions laid down in subsection 2 of Section 6, and who knows or may reasonably assume that the pregnancy is of more than 13 weeks’ duration, shall be liable to not more than one year’s imprisonment or a fine not exceeding 50,000 guilders.
Section 16. (1) A physician who provides treatment intended to terminate a pregnancy at any time earlier than that stipulated in Section 3 shall be liable to a fine not exceeding 50,000 guilders.
(2) Such an act shall not be punishable where the physician has provided treatment intended to terminate pregnancy at an earlier time in order to avert an imminent danger to the woman’s life or health.
(3) A physician who informs the woman as to whether he is prepared to give her the assistance requested of him at any time later than that stipulated in
Section 3 shall be liable to the same penalty.
Section 17. A hospital or clinic in which treatment intended to terminate pregnancy is provided in contravention of Section 2 or the order referred to in subsection 1 of Section 10 shall be liable to a fine not exceeding 100,000 guilders.
Section 18. (1) A physician who fails to comply with the provisions of subsections 1 or 6 of Section 11 shall be liable to a fine not exceeding 10,000
(2) A chief physician who fails to comply with the provisions of subsections
2 and 3 of Section 11 and Section 12 shall be liable to a fine not exceeding
Section 19. (1) The acts made punishable under Section 15, subsections 1 and
3 of Section 16, and Sections 17 and 18 are offences.
(2) In addition to the officials referred to in Section 141 of the Code of
Criminal Procedure, the chief medical inspector and inspectors of the State
Public Health Inspectorate and the officials assisting them shall be responsible for detecting the punishable acts referred to in the preceding subsection.
Section 20. (1) No person shall be obliged to provide a woman with treatment intended to terminate pregnancy or to assist in providing such treatment.
(2) Where a physician has a conscientious objection to providing such treatment or arranging for such treatment to be provided, he shall inform the woman of this immediately after she has first consulted him.
(3) The provisions of subsection 1 do not detract from the physician’s duty to provide other physicians with information concerning the woman’s condition if requested to do so and provided the woman has given her consent.
The Penal Code shall be amended as follows.
A. A new Section shall be inserted after Section 82, reading as follows:
“82a. The term ‘to take the life of another person or of a child at the time of birth or shortly after birth’ includes the killing of a fetus which may reasonably be assumed to be capable of remaining alive outside the mother’s body.”
A new Title shall be inserted after Section 295, reading as follows:
Termination of Pregnancy
Section 296. Any person who provides a woman with treatment and knows or may reasonably assume that pregnancy may be terminated as a result shall be liable to not more than four years and six months’ imprisonment.
Where the act results in the death of the woman, the person shall be liable to not more than six years’ imprisonment.
Where the act is committed without the woman’s consent, the person shall be liable to not more than 12 years’ imprisonment.
Where the act is committed without the woman’s consent and also results in her death, the person shall be liable to not more than 15 years’ imprisonment.
The act referred to in the first paragraph shall not be punishable if the treatment is provided by a physician in a hospital or clinic in which such treatment may be provided under the Law on the termination of pregnancy.
Decree of 17 May 1984 laying down provisions for the implementation of the Law on the termination of pregnancy (Decree on the termination of pregnancy).
Chapter 1. Definitions.
Section 1. In this Decree and in the provisions made to it, “the Law” means the Law on the termination of pregnancy and “treatment” means treatment intended to terminate pregnancy.
Chapter 2. General provisions concerning the termination of pregnancy.
Section 2. (1) The hospital which provides treatment, and the abortion clinic, shall ensure that sufficient personnel in the psychological and social fields are made available to provide assistance.
(2) Adequate time and premises in the hospital shall be made available for such personnel.
Section 3. (1) The hospital and the clinic shall ensure that the woman consults the physician on one or more occasions in order to reach a careful decision in accordance with Section 5 of the Law.
(2) Adequate time and premises in the hospital or clinic shall be made available for the physician.
(3) The hospital and the clinic shall ensure that the physician takes appropriate measures to preserve confidentiality regarding the data on the termination of pregnancies.
Section 4. After consulting the physicians in charge of treatment and the personnel mentioned in Section 2, the supervisory board of the hospital and of the clinic shall lay down rules concerning cooperation between the physicians and personnel and concerning the supervision, by the chief physician, of the proper application of these rules.
Section 5. The hospital and the clinic shall ensure that an adequate opportunity is made available for providing the woman with responsible information on methods of preventing unwanted pregnancies.
Section 6. The hospital and the clinic shall ensure that, if the woman expressly consents, a report on her treatment, together with a recommendation as to any after-care which may be necessary, is transmitted to her attending physician or other physician who referred her in accordance with section 3(2) of the Law.
Section 7. (1) The hospital and the clinic shall ensure that the woman is advised that, after treatment, she should place herself under the surveillance of her attending physician, or of the physician who referred her in accordance with Section 3(2) of the Law
(2) If the woman has no attending physician and if she has not been referred by another physician, or if she raises serious objections to placing herself under the surveillance of her attending physician or of the physician who referred her, she should be afforded an opportunity to undergo surveillance in the hospital or clinic.
Section 8. The hospital and the clinic shall ensure that arrangements are concluded with other appropriate establishments or persons operating in the field of health and welfare so that proper after-care can be provided for the woman and those near to her.
Chapter 3. Provisions concerning clinics
Section 9. members of the supervisory board of the corporate body which controls the abortion clinic may not have any financial interest in the establishment or operation of the clinic. There shall be no employer-employee relationship between the individual members of the supervisory board on the one hand and members of the board of management, or other staff connected with the clinic, on the other.
Section 10. (1) The supervisory board shall assign the day-to-day administration of the clinic to a board of management and, so far as medical matters are concerned, to a chief physician.
(2) The supervisory board shall lay down for the board of management written instructions dealing with the operation of the clinic in accordance with the objectives and provisions of the Law and of this Decree. These instructions shall contain, inter alia, guidelines on the care of patients, personnel policy, administration (including medical administration), and the protection of personal privacy.
Section 11. (1) The arrangements regarding personnel shall be conducive, qualitatively and quantitatively, to the proper functioning of the clinic in accordance with its objectives.
(2) Communications between the management and the personnel of the clinic shall be carried out by means of formal discussions.
Section 12. The clinic shall ensure that a woman who has undergone treatment at the clinic is able at any time to apply to a physician for urgent after-care.
Section 13. The administration must be established in such a way that it is aware at all times how the clinic is functioning.
Section 14. The arrangements regarding materials shall be conducive, quantitatively and qualitatively, to the proper functioning of the clinic in accordance with its objectives.
Section 15. The clinic shall ensure that, for each treatment in the clinic, a properly ordered report is drawn up, providing all the information required for the proper provision of care.
Section 16. (1) The clinic shall ensure that medical and nursing care is provided for the woman throughout her stay in the clinic.
(2) The clinic shall ensure that the privacy of the woman is respected so far as possible.
(3) The clinic shall ensure that the woman is treated as a mature person.
(4) The clinic shall ensure that rules are adopted governing the independent hearing of complaints.
Section 17. The clinic shall adopt measures concerning:
–the prevention, detection, and control of communicable diseases;
–general hygiene, by drawing up rules and regulations; and
–proper sterilization arrangements and supervision of the process of sterilization.
Section 18. (1) An agreement governing collaboration shall be concluded between the supervisory board of the clinic and the supervisory board of a hospital in the vicinity of the clinic.
(2) The agreement shall cover all cases where the hospital provides care for the benefit of patients of the clinic, on the application of the physician providing treatment in the clinic. Care shall cover all cases of advice of a diagnostic and therapeutic nature provided by medical specialists connected with the hospital.
(3) The inspector shall be notified of the agreement.
Section 19. (1) The clinic shall observe the generally applicable laws and provisions concerning, inter alia, premises, conditions of work, and supply of medicaments.
(2) The clinic shall take the necessary precautions against fire.
Section 20. The clinic shall ensure that the establishment itself, its personnel, and other persons employed by it have appropriate insurance covering claims against them in respect of their legal liability.
Chapter 4. Special provisions applicable to clinics where pregnancies of more than 13 weeks’ duration are terminated.
Section 21. Clinics which provide treatment for the purpose of terminating pregnancies of more than 13 weeks’ duration shall in addition meet the requirements laid down in this Chapter.
Section 22. During treatment in accordance with Section 21, at least two physicians must be present in the clinic.
Section 23. Arrangements shall be made so that a woman who has undergone treatment in the clinic can at all times obtain after-care in the clinic in connection with such treatment.
Section 24. An agreement within the meaning of Section 18 shall in all cases be concluded with a hospital which also provides the treatment mentioned in Section 21.
Chapter 5. Information which must be submitted with applications for a licence.
Section 25. (1) in applying for a licence within the meaning of
Section 2 of the Law, the hospital or clinic shall furnish data establishing that the requirements laid down in Sections 2(1) and 8 are met.
(2) In addition to the data mentioned in (1) hereof, the clinic shall also provide the following information:
(a) a description of the nature of the corporate body;
(b) a copy of the memorandum and articles, if the corporate body is not a public body;
(c) the composition of the supervisory board;
(d) the address of the clinic, with a description of the premises available for providing treatment; and
(e) a copy of the agreement or agreements governing collaboration with a hospital concluded in accordance with Section 18.
Chapter 6. Provisions concerning the termination of pregnancies.
Section 26 (1) The physician referred to in Section 11 of the
Law shall submit the data referred to in subsection 1 of that Section to the chief physician within one month of the end of the calendar quarter to which the data relate.
(2) The physician shall submit the data by means of a form, the model of which shall be prescribed by our Minister.
Section 27 (1) The chief physician shall submit the report referred to in Section 11(3) of the Law to the inspector within three months of the end of the calendar quarter to which the report relates.
(2) He shall submit the report by means of a form, the model of which shall be prescribed by our Minister.
Section 28 (1) The physician referred to in Section 11(6) and
Section 18(1) of the Law shall ensure that the findings on the basis of which the treatment can be considered justifiable in accordance with Section 5(1) and
2(c) of the Law are drawn up in writing before, or as soon as possible after, the treatment.
(2) The inspector must be able, on the basis of the data contained in the reports, to decide whether the physician has acted in accordance with
Section 5 of the Law.
Section 29. This Decree may be referred to as “the Decree on the termination of pregnancy.”
Section 30. The Law on the termination of pregnancy and this Decree shall enter into force on 1 November