Court: Free birth control is for politicians to decide, not the court
It is up to politicians to decide whether the government should reimburse people for contraception costs, and not the court system, a court in The Hague decided. On behalf of more than 7,000 citizens, several organizations had also demanded that the State reimburse birth control costs moving forward. The plaintiffs have not yet decided if they will appeal.
Women's rights organization Bureau Clara Wichmann and civil society DeGoedeZaak argued that it is discriminatory that women have to pay for contraception costs during the lawsuit in July. They cited international treaties and Article 1 of the Constitution, which states that the government must treat people equally without discriminating based on gender.
The court did not agree. Although the State is responsible for guaranteeing citizens' "sexual and reproductive rights," making contraception free is not assured, per se.
Contraception is widely available in the Netherlands and frequently freely available, the court argued. Moreover, the costs are not so high as to form an obstacle in contraception choice, giving women many avenues to avoid pregnancy if that is what they want.
The court did recognize that not every "lasting or short-lived relationship" between a man and a woman is equal and that free contraception can contribute to more equality. The inequality is not because contraception is not reimbursed, the court said.
Contraception was part of the basic health insurance package for many years, but it was removed in 2011 because it was not seen as a medical necessity. Girls under the age of 18 who use the pill are currently reimbursed under the basic insurance. Between the ages of 18 and 21, the costs are part of a person's deductible. After that, women have to pay for the pill themselves or take out additional insurance.
A majority of the Tweede Kamer would like to add contraception back to the basic package. Whether the Cabinet implements an adopted motion about this is up to politicians themselves and not to the court, the court said on Wednesday.
Anniek de Ruijter said she was "disappointed" by the verdict. She is the director of Bureau Clara Wichmann. "There is indeed indirect discrimination. In practice, women pay for the costs of contraception more frequently. That is why the State must regulate this differently."
Reporting by ANP