Dutch Parliament to Consider Forcing “Unfit Mothers” to Take Contraception
Women in the Netherlands deemed “unfit mothers” may soon be forced to take contraception, if a draft bill currently before the Dutch parliament is passed. The bill “targets women who have been the subject of judicial intervention due to their bad parenting,” says its author, a member of the Netherlands’ socialist Labour Party.
Under the proposed legislation, a woman judged unfit who refuses to take contraception and becomes pregnant would have her child taken away at birth. The infant then would be placed in a foster home.
While it’s certain that such a measure could potentially prevent convicted child abusers from conceiving and abusing more children, many questions have been raised about the draft bill’s potential impact on human rights in the Netherlands.
Disabled mothers already face a worldwide uphill battle for the right to bear children. Earlier this year, ”K.E.J.,” a woman with developmental disabilities, was taken to court by her own aunt, who wanted K.E.J. to be sterilized against her will. K.E.J. won her court battle. But would a woman with similar disabilities be judged unfit under the proposed Dutch system? What about a woman who could not care for a child due to a mental illness like post-partum depression, but who has entered a treatment program and wants to try again?
The bill does not appear to include any prohibitions against discrimination based on disability, except that parents who have not yet raised a child and been judged unfit based on the way in which they parented that child would not be affected. Therefore, women would not be put on court-ordered contraception before having their first child.
The draft bill, if passed, could also negatively impact women’s rights in the Netherlands. It does not include any provision that would place similar restrictions on the reproductive rights of fathers.
What do you think? Should the Dutch state be able to force women who have abused or neglected previous children to take contraception? Do you think the proposed legislation would be used as a Eugenic measure to prevent women with disabilities from having children?
If you found this post interesting, you might also be interested in reading about a Roma woman recently denied compensation for her forced sterilization.