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Dutch court rules against free birth control pill campaign

Contraceptives are easily available in the Netherlands and the fact that women over the age of 21 have to pay for the pill themselves is not discriminatory, a court in The Hague ruled on Wednesday.

Several women’s organisations and more than 7,000 individual supporters had gone to court, calling for the pill to be included in the basic health insurance package once again.

Women, supporters of the court case say, bear the brunt of paying for contraception and some women are unable to afford it. In addition, being able to choose when to have children is a fundamental right, the organisations said.

The court said that the current system does not hinder access to contraception. ‘Women in the Netherlands have a wide range of contraceptive methods at their disposal, which are both widely available and don’t cost much,’ the court said in its ruling.

The pill was covered by public health insurance up to 2004 when it was removed from the basic coverage, only to be put back four years later. However, in 2010 the first administration led by Mark Rutte once again scrapped it from the list of free treatments for all women over the age of 21.

Birth control pills cost between €10 and €80 per year, according to the consumer society Consumentenbond. An IUD, which lasts for 10 years, costs around €100 and can be placed by a family doctor free of charge.

In February MPs voted in favour of a motion to once again include the contraceptive pill on the official list of items covered by basic health insurance. However, health minister Tamara van Ark said the cost would be between €25m and €60m a year, and it would be up to the next cabinet to take a decision.

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