In the 1970s, Dutch feminist group the Dolle Mina’s succeeded in getting contraceptives covered by basic health insurance. However, in 2011, the Dutch Government annulled this motion, arguing that they are not “medically necessary.” Recent research shows that 8% of Dutch women - mainly those in situations of vulnerability - have decided not to use contraceptives in the past ten years.
We believe that every woman in the Netherlands must have access to contraceptives, regardless of their financial situation. Therefore, it should be part of the basic health insurance package. In 2019, ‘Bureau Clara Wichmann’ and ‘De Goede Zaak’ kickstarted a petition to include contraception in the basic health insurance package. A total of 55,000 signatures were collected in a single week and presented to Parliament. Following this petition, Lilianne Ploumen (Labour Party) asked Parliamentary questions to our Minister for Medical Care and called upon our government to include contraception in the basic health insurance package. Unfortunately, she didn’t get a majority for her proposal.
On the 14th of February 2020, a lawsuit against the Dutch State was initiated - and Dr. Annemarie is one of the plaintiffs. The case was based on Articles 8 and 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which regulate the right to respect private and family life and the prohibition of discrimination based on sex. It was also rooted on Article 16 of the CEDAW Convention, which obliges states to undertake “all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in all matters relating to marriage and family relations.” These articles, combined, point at the right to accessible contraception, where ‘accessibility’ also means it should be free of charge.
In July 2021, the District Court of The Hague rejected our claim. The Court recognized that not every relationship between men and women is entirely equal and that providing free contraceptives can help reduce discrimination. However, the Court also ruled that the State is not obliged to reimburse the cost of contraceptives.
Following this decision, the three Dutch socialist parties, GroenLinks, SP, and PvdA, submitted a legislative amendment proposing to change the law.
Access to contraceptives is a fundamental reproductive health right with a profound and positive impact on women’s lives. It empowers women to control their sexuality, choose whether or not to have children, and determine the timing of their pregnancies. Contraception should be available to everyone, especially in a prosperous and emancipated country like the Netherlands, and we are determined to keep fighting for our government to acknowledge this.