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The Netherlands has one of the lowest abortion rates in the world. Contraception is widely available and (aside from condoms) free of charge.
Termination of pregnancy (IVG) is legal on request up to 24 weeks after conception. In order to remain within the time limit most doctors perform the procedure up to 21 weeks and some days after conception.
Abortions for medical reasons may be performed in the 24th week at the latest. After 24 weeks the foetus is deemed 'potentially viable' and it becomes a criminal act to perform an abortion. However there is no special provision for pregnancy under general criminal law - this means that if a woman's life is in danger and treatment may result in the death of the foetus, the treating doctor is not culpable.
Abortions are covered under basic national health insurance and are therefore cost-free to the patient.
Foreigners may have an abortion in the Netherlands but are liable for all expenses.
A woman seeking to terminate a pregnancy must consult a doctor who will discuss alternative solutions with her. If the woman decides to continue with the termination there is an obligatory five-day period for reflection between the first visit to the doctor and the procedure itself.
The five-day time delay is not required in the case of a termination carried out up to 16 days after menstruation was due.
The operating doctor is obliged to:
The abortion pill is available in the Netherlands and can be taken up to 49 days after the first day of the last menstruation.
Abortion is not considered a political issue in the Netherlands and clinics are rarely (if ever) the site of protests or demonstrations by anti-abortion activists.
The termination must be carried out in a hospital or clinic licensed to perform abortions.
There are 18 specialised clinics in the Netherlands. The Dutch Abortion Clinics Foundation, StiSAN, proves a list of abortion clinics on its website.