In the Netherlands, minors from the age of 16 have the right to decide. It means they don’t need parental or guardian consent for an abortion.
Younger than 16
According to the Medical Treatment Contracts Act (Wet op de geneeskundige behandelovereenkomst; WGBO), for medical procedures for minors between the ages of 12 and 16, double consent is required, i.e. both the minor and the parent/guardian need to give their consent. In addition, the doctor must provide both the parent(s) or guardian and the minor with all the information necessary to be able to give informed consent.
No consent from parent(s)/guardian, or the parent(s)/guardian are not to be notified:
Contrary to the general rule, the doctor may perform a procedure without parental or guardian consent or knowledge if:
- The procedure is necessary to avoid serious harm to the minor.
- The minor still wants the procedure to be performed even after refusal of consent by the parent(s) or guardian.
- At the express wishes of the minor, the parent(s)/guardian will not be notified if there are plausible reasons to believe that this could harm her.
Help and support
Abortion is a drastic and major decision and it’s important that a girl has all the support and guidance to help her reach her decision. As her legal representatives, her parents are the obvious persons to provide her with this help and support. However, not every family situation allows for a joint decision. In such a situation, the doctor may discuss with the girl if her parents should be informed about her intention to have an abortion. Even if the parents refuse consent, the abortion can still go ahead.
Without the knowledge of the parents
In some situations it is inexpedient or even dangerous for a girl to discuss her ‘wish’ for an abortion with her parents, for example if there could be threat of social-emotional consequences or even honour killing. If the girl expects harmful consequences following a conversation with her parents about the pregnancy and abortion, the doctor in our clinic can decide, in the interest of the girl and on the basis of well-considered practice of medicine, to perform the abortion without the parents knowing and thus without their consent. To exercise due caution, usually a second doctor or health provider will also have a consultation with the girl.
Finally, it must be prevented that the parents are billed for the abortion afterwards. This can be achieved by having the abortion at an abortion clinic and not at the hospital. The fact is that hospital abortion is covered by health insurance (deductible excess; ‘eigen risico’), while an abortion at an abortion clinic is covered by the Long-term Care Act, funded by the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sports, and will therefore never be found on any health insurance statements.