What is the time limit for having an abortion in the Netherlands?

An abortion may be performed up to the time when the foetus could survive outside the mother’s body. This means abortion is allowed up to 24 weeks. After that, an abortion is only allowed in the case of serious medical problems.

Medical abortion or surgical abortion

How you can terminate your pregnancy depends on how many weeks pregnant you are.

Up to 9 weeks of pregnancy, you can have a medical abortion. This procedure involves two types of medication. First, you will get a pill to end the pregnancy. The second medication causes the uterus to contract and expel the amniotic sac. A single dose consists of several pills.

If you are more than 9 weeks pregnant or if you don’t want a medical abortion, there are other methods. Suction abortion (vacuum aspiration) is possible until 13 weeks of pregnancy. The uterus is emptied by suction. If you are more than 13 weeks pregnant, abortion must be performed with medical instruments. The instruments are used to remove all pregnancy tissue from the uterus. You can have these procedures under local or general anaesthetic. 

Currently you can only get an abortion at an abortion clinic or a hospital. Not every clinic performs every type of procedure. In the future it will be possible to get a medical abortion (‘abortion pill’) from a GP (huisarts in Dutch). Your GP or an abortion clinic will be able to tell you more about what treatment options are available to you.

Termination of pregnancy after 24 weeks

After 24 weeks, a doctor may only terminate a pregnancy for serious medical reasons, for instance because the foetus has no chance of surviving after the birth.