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Web magazine, 22 February 2011 15:00

Annual number of abortions stable over the past decade

Forty years ago to the day, on 27 February 1971, the first abortion clinic opened its doors in the Netherlands. Approximately 28 thousand abortions are carried out on women living in the Netherlands every year. This amount has changed little over the past decade.

Most abortions in the age category 20-24

In 2009, nearly 9 in every thousand female Dutch residents aged between 15 and 45 had abortions performed in a hospital or abortion clinic. The ratio has been fairly stable in recent years. With 7.2 thousand, 2009 had the highest number of abortions in the age category 20-24. Proportionally, this age category also had the highest number of abortions: nearly 15 in every thousand women, i.e. more than twice as high as among girls under the age of 20.

Abortions by age

Abortions by age

Significant differences by ethnic background

In various categories of people with a non-western background, the abortion rate is considerably higher than among native Dutch women. In 2008, 5.5 in every thousand native Dutch women underwent abortions. The rate among Antillean women was more than seven times as high (nearly 40 per thousand). The abortion rate among Antillean and Surinamese women is high, but the birth rate is almost the same as for native Dutch women. 

Abortions per thousand women aged 15-44 by ethnic background (first and second generation), 2008

Abortions per thousand women aged 15-44 by ethnic background (first and second generation), 2008

Better pregnancy prevention among teenage girls

Each year, about 7 in every thousand girls younger than 20 terminate a pregnancy. This rate is below the average rate for all women. As many in this age category do not have sexual intercourse, the abortion rate is relatively high among the sexually active girls in this age group.

Figures show that the decline in the number of new teenage mothers in recent years is the result of better prevention of teenage pregnancies, because the amount of abortions among teenage girls was also reduced.

Abortions and live births per thousand girls aged between 15 and 19

Abortions and live births per thousand girls aged between 15 and 19

Teen mums rare phenomenon in the Netherlands

Teen mums are a rare phenomenon in the Netherlands relative to other European countries. Only Switzerland has fewer teen mums. The abortion rate among Dutch girls is also low. In the United Kingdom, birth and abortion rates for teenage girls are significantly higher. The situation in Scandinavia is remarkable: the birth rate among teenage girls is relatively low, but the abortion rate is high. Abortion is used as a means to reduce teenage births in Scandinavia.

Abortions per thousand girls aged 15–19, 2009

Abortions per thousand girls aged 15–19, 2009

Joop Garssen and Hans Kruijer (Rutgers WPF)

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