It is stipulated in the Medical Treatment Agreement Act (WGBO) that minors at least 16 years old may decide independently and have an independent right to information.


The principle for a procedure on a minor between 12 and 16 years old is double permission: both the parents and the minor must give permission for the performance of the procedure. For legally valid permission, the doctor must provide the parents and the minor with all the information that is necessary to give properly informed permission.


Contrary to the principle, the doctor may carry out a procedure without the parents’ permission if:

  1. the procedure is obviously necessary to avoid a serious disadvantage to the minor;
  2. even after the parents’ refusal, the minor maintains a well-considered desire for the procedure.


Given the drastic nature of undergoing an abortion, both from a medical and a social viewpoint, it is important that the girl receives support and guidance in her decision of whether or not to undergo an abortion. The parents are the first nominated as legal representatives in this matter. The family situation however does not always permit a joint decision. In such a case, the doctor can discuss with the girl whether the parents can be informed of the intention to undergo an abortion. Even if the parents refuse permission, the abortion may take place if the girl continues to maintain her well-considered desire for it.


Without foreknowledge

There are conceivable situations where it would be undesirable or even harmful for the girl to discuss her wish for an abortion with her parents. For example if the girl were threatened with socio-economic consequences or even blood revenge. If the girl expects serious detrimental consequences from a discussion with her parents about pregnancy and abortion, the doctor, in the girl’s interests and based on good care provision, can decide to carry out the abortion without the parent’s foreknowledge and thus without their permission.


The minor here must indeed have made a voluntary and well-considered judgement. This is regulated in this way in the abortion legislation: a mandatory consideration period of five days applies between the initial discussion with the doctor or GP and the day of the abortion. This period starts from the referral from a GP. However, if the patient is late by 16 days or less, the mandatory consideration period does not apply.


The doctor must guarantee guidance and aftercare, such as proper information provision about contraceptives. It is also crucial to document everything comprehensively in her medical file. If the abortion takes place without the parents’ foreknowledge, they do not have the right to consult this part of the medical file.


Source: KNMG, Medisch Contact 26.06.2014