Summary proceedings: Make abortion pill more accessible during the time of COVID-19

PRESS RELEASE April 10, 2020:

Today, summary proceedings are taking place against the Dutch Ministry of Health to ensure that the measures at the time of COVID-19 do not form an obstacle to access to abortion care.

The lawsuit was brought by Trix (pseudonym) with co-claimants Bureau Clara Wichmann and Women on Waves.

Trix is a single mother with a daughter with Corona symptoms and therefore cannot leave the house if she follows government guidelines.

Another woman is in an unsafe home situation with a partner who does not want to let her go outside for a long time during this period. And yet another woman living on an Island would have to travel 4 hours to go to an abortion clinic.

The organizations believe that it is precisely during this time of crisis that the abortion pill should also be able without a physical visit to an abortion clinic but after a consultation with a doctor and, if necessary, an ultrasound examination close to home and delivered by a pharmacy or the postal service. 

This is urgent for Trix and some of the women who reported to the organizations. They simply cannot leave the house now. Other women with an unwanted pregnancy are less likely to contract a COVOD-19 infection outdoors during transport to or a visit to a clinic. Finally, staff in abortion clinics are also better protected by the least possible direct patient contact. 

Lawyer Lisa-Marie Komp: “Many women are in a very unsafe home situation. Previously, an appointment could be made during working hours so that their abortion would remain secret. Because everyone now has to work at home, that is no longer possible. Other women are reluctant to take a long journey by public transport and visit a clinic with the chance of contracting a Corona infection from contamination during transport there and back, by staff members or by fellow patients in a waiting room.

All three women want to terminate their pregnancy with the abortion pill within the first trimester. Extensive scientific research has already shown that this is a safe way to terminate a pregnancy at home.  The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (RCOG) has created a special guideline for abortion care in Corona times focusing on the safety and potential of using telemedine without visiting a clinic

Doctor and director Rebecca Gomperts of Women on Waves wants to send the abortion pill to her clients after a telephone consultation by post or by prescription via the pharmacy. The risk of complications with this treatment is very small.

Rebecca Gomperts: “Terminating a pregnancy is an urgent and time-sensitive problem. Waiting a few weeks is not an option. It is currently unclear how long the restrictive measures to prevent the spread of the virus are needed. We also want to prevent women from having to make a long journey by public transport to an abortion clinic with the risk of Corona infection, just for an ultrasound and taking a pill. ”