Abortion permit for hospital in Bonaire

THE HAGUE--Dutch caretaker Minister of Public Health, Wellbeing and Sports has issued a permit to the Mariadal Foundation to perform abortions until the 22nd week of pregnancies.

Schippers informed the Second Chamber of her decision on Thursday. The permit has been granted based on the law to terminate pregnancies for the Dutch 'public entities' Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba under a number of strict conditions. Abortion was legalised on the islands on October 10, 2011. The Mariadal Foundation applied for a permit on February 14, 2012.
The Mariadal Foundation which runs Bonaire's San Francisco hospital will have to take a number of steps. The social worker and the clinical obstetricians and nurses will have to be trained to acquire the necessary know-how and experience on abortion care.
The hospital has to implement the required protocols regarding the procedure and aftercare. Also, the hospital has to come to an agreement with the local general practitioners as legal abortion assistance will only be possible under the hospital's permit.
Schippers stated in her letter that she has set a four-month term for the hospital to comply with these conditions after which Mariadal must submit an accountability report to the Dutch Inspectorate for Public Health IGZ. At that time IGZ will pay an inspection visit.
The Minister informed the hospital that it must ensure a five-day consideration time for persons who apply for an abortion and the number of performed abortions is registered.
It has been agreed with Bonaire's Executive Council that the permit will go hand in hand with an information campaign about sexual education and sexual health. "This will increase the knowledge about safe sex and the use of contraceptives. Abortion is not a contraceptive," stated Schippers. The contraceptive pill has been included in the health insurance package.
The primary responsibility for this information campaign lies with local government, but the Dutch Ministry of Public Health, Wellbeing and Sports VWS has pledged its support.
Member of the Second Chamber Cynthia Ortega-Martijn of the Christian Union said she was "surprised" by the Minister's decision. "I hadn't expected this to become a reality so soon." She said the people had not been informed or prepared for this.
According to Ortega-Martijn, The Netherlands should stop implementing its Dutch rules and practices on the islands without consultation and without taking the people's wishes into account. "People have other things on their mind. Why is this abortion permit a priority? We should grant the islands space and time to implement this."
Sexual education is the way to prevent unwanted pregnancies, said Ortega-Martijn. "It starts with sexual education, informing people how to have sex in a safe and healthy manner," she said.



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