Dutch parliament votes to keep abortion in Penal Code
A majority in the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of the Dutch parliament, is against removing abortion from the Penal Code. They are coalition parties VVD, CDA, and ChristenUnie, and the opposition parties SGP, PVV, and FvD. Proponents of removing abortion from criminal law argue that it is a form of medical care and belongs in the basic health insurance package, not the book of criminal acts.
Together with the opposition parties GroenLinks, PvdA, SP, and Lijst Gundogan, coalition party D66 also wanted to heed the call of the citizens’ initiative BNNVARA and the Humanistisch Verbond. They specifically asked the Tweede Kamer to delete Article 296 from the Penal Code because abortion is not a crime.
The opponents of deleting that article believe that the current balance in the law is good and valuable. An unintentionally pregnant woman can get help, and the unborn life is protected, said CDA parliamentarian Hilde Palland and others. “Without this article, we say that an unborn life that is not viable does not deserve protection,” said ChristenUnie leader Mirjam Bikker.
That was also the argument of the other parties who did not want to change the Penal Code.
GroenLinks parliamentarian Corinne Ellemeet argued that abortion is a medical intervention. Doctors who do not perform an abortion according to the rules can also be prosecuted without the “infamous article 296,” she said. “A separate legal framework is unnecessary.” The other proponents of deleting the article agreed.
Ellemeet has been working on an initiative law for some time to remove abortion from the Penal Code. She will continue with that and submit it to parliament later this year. The citizens’ initiative is a signal of support for her.
D66 parliamentarian WIeke Paulusma added that the current law maintains the stigma on abortion. By deleting that article, the stigma can also be broken, she said.
Reporting by ANP