Nobody's Baby Now

The Netherlands may be known throughout the world for their quaint wooden shoes and their progressive drug and prostitution laws, but soon they might be known for something else: forced sterilization of women. You read me right, a draft bill currently before the Dutch parliament will, if passed, force women deemed to be "unfit mothers" to take oral contraception for a period of two years.

The bill targets women who have been, "the subject of judicial intervention because of their bad parenting," explained the author of the bill Marjo Van Dijken of the socialist PvDA. "If someone refuses the contraception and becomes pregnant, the child must be taken away directly after birth."

Now certainly I understand the motivations behind a bill like this. You see someone who has been convicted of child abuse or neglect, and you don't want that person to have any more children for awhile. I get it. But isn't a bill like this intervening on the behalf of unborn children in the same way anti-abortion legislation purports to do? Isn't it the beginning of a mighty slippery slope when the courts get to decide which women can and can't have children? Not to mention the fact that this bill would require women to take medication that alters their body chemistry, a slippery slope in its own right.

And another issue here is that, big surprise, this bill has nothing to do with men whatsoever. Dutch men can abuse and neglect their children all they want and still remain as fertile as a freshly plowed field. Of course that is the case, because men are not responsible for the way a child is parented, right? And to take a man's fertility away, well, that's unthinkable. I mean, there aren't even oral contraceptive methods available for men because their reproductive powers are so sacred. Women's fertility, on the other hand, is apparently up for grabs.

Now, according to some legal experts, this bill violates the European Union Charter of Fundamental Rights and is unlikely to pass. But it still raises some mighty interesting questions regarding fertility, parenting, and 1984-style government intervention. So what do you think? Is this type of legislation ok? Or would it open a gateway to a dystopian future for women and our reproductive rights?

Thanks to Jason Gerraughty for the tip on this story!

by Kelsey Wallace
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Kelsey Wallace is an editor in Portland, Oregon. Follow her on Twitter if you like TV and pictures of dogs.

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4 Comments Have Been Posted

It is an interesting bill. I

It is an interesting bill. I think it takes it too far, but what are the other options? Leave it up to her, thus increasing her risk of getting pregnant just so the child can be taken into state custody ... not so appealing. Subsidize the cost of whatever birth control method she chooses (hormonal, barrier or abstinence [obv free]) and pray that she sticks with it? Seems more appealing from a human rights perspective, but is it realistic?

Unfortunately a friend of a friend of mine did serve jail time for neglect after the death of her child, and she is not allowed to have children (not sure for how long). unfortunately because of her past, she can't get a decent job so she can't afford BC (well, how expensive is a condom?), but she still has sex and when she gets pregnant, she has an abortion. not really a great solution, but of unfortunately when the State says she can't have kids, it does nothing to help subsidize those costs. at least if you are going to tell someone they legally can't have kids, give them a hand with helping to make sure that doesn't happen ..... I do think The Netherlands bill takes it a bit too far.

Say No to Drugs

I think there's probably some kind of middle ground between the two choices presented at the end of the article (this legislation is ok vs. this legislation will lead to a dystopian future). What's really depressing is that this kind of legislation already means there's some very deeply emebedded misogyny out there. But that's not news, really.

The article pointed out most of the serious ideological issues with this kind of legislation, so on a more surface-level note, I'll just chime in that oral contraceptives aren't even safe for every woman. Just goes to show how truly clueless some people are about women's bodies/reproduction/rights. "Just give 'em a pill and we'll save a children." How fucking offensive.

Typo: give em a pill and

Typo: give em a pill and we'll save THE children.

Nobody's Baby

In the 90's Washington DC decided to invoke "mandatory sterilization" for "habitual offenders" that would work the public assistance system. So many crack whores were having babies that were addicted and no one would adopt them. To reduce the number of HIV+ babies and drug-born-addict babies, they would sterilize the woman and give her $200. It saved them money in the long-run on child care and putting babies into public assistance.

Just because people can breed and have children, doesn't mean that they should. There are plenty of wonderful couples - gay, lesbian - that want to adopt children and aren't allowed to because of their sexual orientation. They are more often than not very qualified to take care of these children, but are denied a family. Then you have the woman who has four, five, six kids, neglects, abuses and doesn't want these kids, but is approved for more assistance every time she has another one. That is not right.

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