Unintended Pregnancy and Induced Abortion in the Netherlands 1954-2002

M. Levels, Ariana Need, Rense Nieuwenhuis, Roderick Sluiter, W. UItee

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In the Netherlands, abortion is legal, safe, easily available, and free of charge. Paradoxically, it is also extremely rare. Little quantitative research into the Netherlands’ abortion practice has been done. We analyse the fertile life-course of N = 3,793 Dutch women between 1954 and 2002. Using repeated event history analyses and sequential logistic regression, we test hypotheses on individual and societal effects on women’s likelihood of experiencing (unintended) pregnancies and abortions during their life-course. The most important findings pertain to the effect of policies and laws intended to regulate reproductive behaviour. During the observation period, permissive abortion legislation and higher availability of abortion services increased the likelihood that Dutch women terminated unintended pregnancies. Abortion insurance did not affect the likelihood that women terminated an unintended pregnancy. Results suggest that the legalization, availability, and insurance of contraceptive pills helped to prevent abortions, because these measures effectively reduced the demand for abortion.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)301-318
JournalEuropean sociological review
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • METIS-287136
  • IR-81059


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