Dutch judge offers no relief to women who are now waiting for an abortion and cannot leave their home.
PRESS RELEASE, Amsterdam April 10, 2020
On April 10 th, the District Court of The Hague dismissed the application for interim relief from Trix (alias) against the State, to make it possible to obtain the abortion pill outside the abortion clinics.
The State, supported by the abortion clinics and abortion doctors, maintains that women have to go to an abortion clinic to pick up the medication.
This while the COVID-19 measures mean that not all women can get there.
The judgement of the court leaves women deprived of necessary abortion care in times of corona, while a good alternative is within reach. Abortion clinics and doctors could just send the pills, because the termination of the pregnancy already takes place at home. The only difference is that now women shouldn't have to go to the clinic to pick up the pills.
The judge argued that the women in need of abortion services did not try hard enough to access the existing abortion services even though it was impossible for them to go to a clinic.
He furthermore ruled that there was no imminent conflict between the restrictions imposed by the state in times of Covid-19 and the criminal abortion laws. The judge also ruled there was no violation of article 5 of the European convention on human rights, because the state has a wide of appreciation.
Trix is currently unwanted pregnant. She is a single mother with a daughter with COVID19 symptoms and therefore cannot leave the house if she follows government guidelines. Through these summary proceedings, Trix wanted to make it possible for GPs and / or abortion doctors to be able to provide the abortion pill by post after a telephone consultation or to have it collected from the pharmacy. In this way she would have access to an abortion treatment.
Trix is not the only woman who would have been helped in a positive court decision. Similarly, another woman in an unsafe home situation with a partner who does not know she is pregnant and does not have a cover, such as staying away from work, to go to the clinic. Another woman lives on a Wadden Island and should now travel 4 hours to go to an abortion clinic. Abortion clinics cannot help these women.
Due to this ruling, the Netherlands is far behind compared to other countries. In the UK and Ireland, for example, it is now also possible to provide assistance via telemedicine for abortion due to the COVID-19 crisis. 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.
In the Netherlands, the rights of vulnerable women who are unable to access abortion care through COVID 19 measures, are now seriously violated.
Bureau Clara Wichmann and Women on Waves supported Trix in their case and will continue to do so. In addition, Bureau Clara Wichmann and Women on Waves stand up for the interests of the larger group of women who do not have access to drug abortion due to corona measures.
Trix, Women on Waves and Bureau Clara Wichmann are currently considering next steps to ensure access to this necessary care.