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Abortion in Europe: Dutch parliament votes to scrap “demeaning” waiting period

By 10 February 2022News

Dutch vote to remove the mandatory waiting period for abortion access is an encouraging example for Ireland’s abortion review, says Irish Family Planning Association

In a positive move for reproductive rights in Europe, the Dutch parliament today (10/02/2022) voted to scrap the waiting period for access to abortion care.

CEO of the Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA) Niall Behan said, “As Ireland’s abortion review gets underway, it is very encouraging that the Dutch parliament has recognized that mandatory waiting periods have no place in essential healthcare.

“There is no health rationale for delays imposed by law before a person can access abortion care. Mandatory waiting periods imposed by law are contrary to World Health Organisation (WHO) guidance.”

The WHO 2012 Safe Abortion Guidance [Safe Abortion: technical and policy guidance for health systems 2012] states that a mandatory waiting period in law ‘demeans women as competent decision makers’.

Niall Behan said, “As an abortion care provider, the IFPA knows from our services that Ireland’s inflexible 3-day waiting period causes distress and delays. It unjustifiably interferes with people’s ability to make autonomous decisions about their own healthcare.

 “The review of the 2018 Health (Termination of Pregnancy) Act must examine all the evidence from those who have accessed abortion services, and those who provide abortion services, to fully understand the negative impacts of the waiting period, as well as other flaws in the law, on pregnant women.

“And then, like its Dutch counterpart, the Oireachtas must make the reforms necessary to remove these barriers to abortion care.”


For press and media queries please contact Communications Officer Sophie Mac Neice on 086 795 2167.


  • The Dutch Senate will vote on the proposal later in the year.
  • Abortion became legal in the Netherlands in 1984. The law includes a mandatory five-day wait time before a person can access abortion. The five-day wait time does not apply if a person’s menstrual period is less than 17 days overdue.
  • As an abortion provider and from the perspective of bodily autonomy and reproductive rights, IFPA is of the view that the review of the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Act 2018 should lead to an extension of the rigid 12-week limit, removal of the 3-day-waiting period, the full decriminalisation of abortion and revision of the definition of fetal anomaly in the law to allow for more inclusive, compassionate care.
  • The IFPA is Ireland’s leading sexual health provider. The organisation offers a comprehensive range of services which promote sexual health and support reproductive choice on a not-for-profit basis, and promotes the right of all people to comprehensive, dedicated and affordable sexual and reproductive health information and services.