History in a nutshell
Abortion is legally regulated in the Netherlands and the care is professionally organised. All this was preceded by stirring times and political and social tension in the sixties of the last century. The Beahuis & Bloemenhovekliniek abortion clinic in Heemstede played an important role in the legalisation and acceptance of abortion in the Netherlands.
Until the sixties, abortion was seen as a ‘crime against decency’. Gynaecologists only carried out an abortion on medical indication. Women with an unwanted pregnancy who wanted an abortion were referred to the clandestine circuit, with all its medical and judicial risks.
In 1971, the first plans to set up a specialised abortion clinic in Beverwijk were prepared. On 7 July 1971, the ‘Beahuis’ abortion clinic started up, with two specially-trained GPs and a small team of nurses and staff.
The Beahuis immediately met a great demand. After three patients on the first day, on the second day, all five beds were occupied. As early as day three, the first patients from abroad appeared. More wards were added, and very soon twelve women a day were being treated, six days a week. By the end of 1971, 1,170 abortions had been conducted in Beverwijk. Currently, 3,000 abortion treatments occur annually at the Beahuis & Bloemenhovekliniek.
In 1973, the current premises of the Beahuis & Bloemenhovekliniek in Heemstede were purchased. On the one hand this was because of the great stream of patients, and on the other because the clinic started to perform pregnancy termination between the 12th and 18th week. For this ‘second trimester treatment’, the ‘Bloemenhovekliniek’ was set up, and it occupied the building together with the Beahuis. This separation was also opted for to prevent the law possibly wanting to close the entire clinic, due to the expected criticism of the treatment in the second trimester of pregnancy.
Abortion clinics have always had their supporters and opponents. Indignant citizens, churches and politicians turned fervently against abortion in the early 70s. In 1975, Minister of Justice Van Agt called for an ‘ethical awakening’ and was an outspoken opponent of the legalisation of abortion. Against this, supporters took to the streets, such as the Dolle Minas with their slogan: ‘Boss in my own belly’. With an occupation in 1976, the Women’s Movement was also able to prevent a threatened closure of the ‘Bloemenhovekliniek’ abortion clinic by Minister Van Agt. It is partly thanks to the Women’s Movement’s fight that abortion has gained an accepted place in society.