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!