GPs can now offer abortion pills in The Netherlands

On March 16, Women on Web celebrated a triumphant occasion in the Netherlands as the country voted in favour of the availability of abortion pills by general practitioners. Dutch women and pregnant people can now access abortion pills through their GP as opposed to a clinic.

This move is a huge step forward for abortion provision and is especially close to our hearts as Women on Web was initially founded by Dutch doctor, Rebecca Gomperts. The decision also comes shortly after the Dutch government decided to eliminate mandatory “reflection times” as well, a period in which women were forced to wait before making the decision to terminate a pregnancy.  

Access barriers to abortion are still a major issue when it comes to care and provision. Barriers such as travel, financial precarity, childcare or time off work all create gaps in abortion access, regardless of legal status. The World Health Organization (WHO) recently updated its recommended guidelines on abortion provision, advocating for more patient-centered care that focuses on local needs and contexts. This includes eliminating waiting times and involving a wide range of health workers in the provision of abortion care from specialist medical practitioners to general practice doctors and community health workers. Since abortion is a time-sensitive procedure, cutting down on time allocated to gaining access is paramount to equitable  abortion care. By taking the step to address these gaps, the Netherlands is hopefully setting an example for other countries and communities in alleviating women and pregnant people of obstacles.