Controversial petition calls for compulsory contraception for 'unfit mothers'
A group of experts have submitted a controversial petition to the House of Representatives (Tweede Kamer), calling for women who are deemed unsuitable for parenthood due to addiction, mental health, or mental disability to receive a mandatory injection or contraceptive implant to prevent pregnancy.
Mandatory contraception for unfit mothers in the Netherlands
The group - known as the Standing Committee on Compulsory Contraception - was founded by Cees de Groot, former juvenile court judge and former vice president of the district court in Rotterdam. The proposed law has the support of a number of experts, including retired professor of medical ethics and former cabinet minister, Heleen Dupuis, and former professor of adoption, René Hoksbergen.
The petition aims to give Child Protective Services and the Public Prosecution Service the power to request the court to impose mandatory (temporary) contraception on someone who is deemed unprepared or unsuitable for parenthood.
Could apply to hundreds of women across the Netherlands
According to the proposal, this power would be used in cases involving individuals who suffer from an addiction, hepatitis B or C or HIV, psychiatric illnesses, mental disabilities, or histories of child abuse - and thus, the experts argue, pose a potential risk to any future child - but refuse to accept contraception and consequently risk becoming pregnant.
Those in support of the proposed law have cited examples in which it could be used, and members of the expert group state there are hundreds of vulnerable women across the Netherlands who could benefit from the proposed legislation. Dupuis said that when she worked as chair of the Association for Disabled Care in the Netherlands (VGN) she met a number of women who were proven to be unable to raise a child, but still wanted to become pregnant - in her opinion, this law would therefore be the lesser of two evils.
Dutch MP's hesitant to support the proposal
The proposal is exceedingly controversial, especially considering that current legislation gives practically everyone the basic right to reproduce freely. Members of parliament are reluctant to support the proposal.
Ockje Tellegen, member of the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) said: “Children must be protected, sometimes unfortunately also from their parents. They cannot do that themselves, so there is a task for the government. Doctors and judges can already advise contraception. The question is therefore whether a separate law is necessary. The VVD is very hesitant.”
Member of the Reformed Political Party (SGP), Kees van der Staaij, acknowledged it was a complicated topic, but said: “As far as [SGP] are concerned, the government should never cross the border to determine who can have children.”