In the United States, the right to abortion is now regulated at the national level, but this could change. If it expires, it will be up to the states themselves to decide how they want to regulate abortion. In left-leaning Democratic states, that won’t change much, but in more than twenty Republican-led states, it will. There is already laws that almost completely ban abortion.
To the anger of the thousands of Americans who took to the streets to protest.
“Abortion is a human right”
But it’s not just in America that the decision has caused huge frustration. This is also the case in the Netherlands. “It is unimaginable that the right to abortion, for which we have fought so hard, is again at stake”, declares Annemieke van Straalen. She is one of the organizers of the solidarity demonstration ‘#BaasInEigenBuik for the abortion law which begins at 1 p.m. on Dam Square in Amsterdam.
Several thousand demonstrators are expected. “The right to abortion is a human right, but it is by no means self-evident.”
The protesters aren’t just taking to the streets to show their solidarity with American women, they’re also concerned about the abortion law in the Netherlands. “The anti-abortion lobby is also big in the Netherlands, it’s much bigger than you think,” says Van Straalen. An example of an organization that plays a major role in this lobby is called Stichting Schreeuw om Leven.
This ensures, among other things, that anti-abortion protesters harass women who visit an abortion clinic, as can be seen in this episode of BNNVARA BOOS.
‘to remain vigilant’
The former Dolle Mina’s, a group of feminist activists from the 1970s who, among other things, fought for self-decision on abortion (“Baas in Eigen Buik”), also remove their banners from the attic to participate in the demonstration. One of them is Ida van Zijl. “We shouldn’t fall asleep,” she said.
“There is always a risk that the rights will be taken away from us.” Van Zijl believes that abortion law is currently reasonably regulated in the Netherlands, unlike other countries in Europe. “But we also see the opposition becoming fiercer and better organised, so we have to remain vigilant.”
Abortion law in the Netherlands
Abortion is permitted up to the 24th week of pregnancy. In practice, doctors assume 22 weeks, since they can accurately determine the duration of pregnancy up to two weeks. After that, an abortion is possible only for very serious medical reasons.
At present, there is still a mandatory cooling-off period for abortion, but there is a good chance that it will soon be abolished. A majority in the House of Representatives supported the bill in which this mandatory cooling-off period is thrown in the trash.
Pregnancy can be terminated by the abortion pill or by surgery. At the moment, only abortion clinics are allowed to give an abortion pill, but some GPs also want to be allowed to do it themselves. If it belongs to the House of Representatives, it will happen soon. A majority recently supported a bill allowing it. This is the second abortion rule change in a short time.
Role of political climate
Ineke van der Vlugt also believes that we must remain “alert and vigilant”. She is an abortion and contraception expert at the Rutgers Sexuality Knowledge Center. “We currently have very liberal abortion laws in the Netherlands,” she says. “And we’ve long thought abortion rights are fine, but they’re not.”
According to Van der Vlugt, the heart of the problem lies in the fact that abortion legislation depends on the political climate. “You never know what the future will bring.”
“Closer Than You Think”
“It only takes one madman to come to power and the right can be taken away from you,” says organizer Van Straalen. She cites Poland as an example. A new abortion law was introduced there last year, making it almost impossible to have another abortion, even if a fetus has incurable abnormalities. “So it’s closer than you think.”
Finally, Van der Vlugt: “It’s good that women are again drawing attention to the law on abortion, that we are joining forces. It is a right for which we must continue to fight.”
“Devoted bacon guru. Award-winning explorer. Internet junkie. Web lover.”