Women forced to wait longer at many Dutch abortion clinics

A pro-abortion protest in the United States (Photo: Tony Webster/Wikimedia Commons)A pro-abortion protest in the United States (Photo: Tony Webster/Wikimedia Commons)

Waiting times at abortion clinics in the Netherlands are increasing, especially in the big cities, BNR reports after surveying a number of clinics throughout the country. As a result, women have to wait longer before being helped or have to travel far from their home to find a clinic that can help them right away, according to the broadcaster. 

The largest abortion provider in the Netherlands is CASA, with clinics in Amsterdam, Leiden, The Hague, Maastricht, Rotterdam and Goes. At these clinics the waiting times are currently around a week and a half, while they would prefer to see a woman on the same day, according to BNR. After the first appointment, women are legally required to reflect on their options for a couple of days. If a pregnancy needs to be ended as soon as possible, the waiting times lead to a risk of time running out for the woman. 

CASA is already opening its clinics on extra Saturdays to help reduce the waiting times, a spokesperson said to BNR. 

The reasons for the increasing waiting times vary. Reasons include a seasonal peak and problems with staff shortages. Another contributing factor is that there is less of a taboo on abortions than there was a few years ago, Saskia Capello, director of Abortion and Sexuality Clinic Mildredhuis and RutgersStimezo, said to BNR. "Abortions also increasingly happen under anesthesia today, which makes the treatment less stressful, through which women are maybe more likely to choose it. In some cases money also plays a role. Up to the age of 21 the pill is reimbursed in the basic healthcare package and after that you have to pay it yourself." Abortions are reimbursed.

According to doctor and sexual psychologist Nicolette Vermeulen, it is an upside down world in which abortions are reimbursed and many forms of contraception are not "I think there should be much more attention for this."

Capello adds that a lack of knowledge also plays a role. "Women often do not know that, for example, you have to take the pill at the same time every day and not after a night out only 12 hours after you usually do. We even meet women who think you only have to take the pill after you've had sex."