Curaçao is part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, but has independent legislation that forbids abortion. In 1999, a policy of tolerance was introduced regarding performing abortions. In order to stimulate discussion on the reproductive and sexual health of Curaçao women, GP Adriana Boersma conducted research on abortion and women’s views of it. She will be awarded a PhD for her research by the University of Groningen on 18 April, 2011.
In Curaçao, abortion is performed at the woman’s request by 11 of the 102 GPs. The abortion rate, i.e. the number of pregnancies that are terminated per 1000 women aged between 15 and 45, in Curaçao is 38. This rate is comparable with that of Antillean women in the Netherlands, whose abortion rate is 41. For all women in the Netherlands, the abortion rate is 8.6.
Boersma states that most unwanted pregnancies occur as a result of no or inconsequent use of reliable, modern contraception. This is due to limited knowledge and a culturally determined, negative attitude to contraception. For example, poor sex education is given at school, and the costs of contraception have to be paid for by the women themselves as they are not covered by most insurance companies on Curaçao. Questionnaire research performed among 146 women revealed that, despite the high number of abortions, women did not regard this as a form of contraception.
According to Boersma, Curaçao is in urgent need of information about sexuality and contraception that dovetails with its culture. This is needed to increase the effective use of contraception and reduce the large number of abortions. Boersma also appeals for contraception to be paid for by the health insurance companies, for better medical explanation of abortion, and for attention to be paid to the psychological and social impact of abortion.
In order to improve care for women requesting an abortion and to reduce the number of post-abortion complications, Boersma also breaks a lance for the legalization of abortion on Curaçao.
Adriana Boersma (Smallingerland, 1959) studied medicine at the University of Groningen. She conducted her PhD research at the Department of General Medicine of the University Medical Center Groningen. Her supervisors were Prof. K. van der Meer, Prof. B. Meyboom-de Jong and Prof. J.G.M. de Bruijn. The title of her PhD thesis is ‘Reproductive health care for women in Curaçao. Induced abortion and contraception’.
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