Fewer abortions by 2021

7 November 2022

Every year, the Healthcare and Youth Inspectorate (IGJ) presents figures regarding the Termination of pregnancy law in a factsheet. The number of abortions has long been around 30,000 per year. Nevertheless, the findings can give us insight into developments in sexual and reproductive health care in the Netherlands.

Pregnancy terminations: the figures

A total of 31,049 terminations of pregnancy were performed in 2021, 315 fewer than in 2020. Most take place in abortion clinics (90%), the remaining terminations of pregnancy in hospitals. In absolute terms, most terminations of pregnancy were in North Holland and South Holland. Relatively speaking, the highest number of terminations of pregnancy took place in women from Flevoland.

Number of abortions between 1985 and 2021
Source: IGJ

More abortions among foreign women

The number of terminations of pregnancy among foreign women increased slightly again after a sharp decline in 2020. The corona crisis and travel restrictions probably affected the number of foreign women having abortions in the Netherlands. In 2021, 2,954 treatments fell into the category of foreign women, about 9.5% of the total.

Most terminations of pregnancy in first 8 weeks

Of all terminations of pregnancy, 85% take place in the first trimester (up to 13 weeks' gestation). The remaining terminations of pregnancy take place in the second trimester (from 13 weeks onwards). Most terminations of pregnancy (65%) take place in the first 8 weeks.

Termination of pregnancy by duration of pregnancy
Source: IGJ.co.uk

Decline in teenage abortions stagnates

Most terminations of pregnancy in 2021 took place in women aged 30-35 years, 24%. Over the past 20 years, the number of abortions in teenagers showed a declining trend. In 2019, this trend was broken for the first time when the number of abortions in teenagers increased. In 2021, 2,383 terminations were teenage pregnancies (up to 20 years), of which 101 were in girls younger than 15 years.

Terminations of pregnancy by age
Source: IGJ.co.uk

Abortion rate

The abortion ratio is the number of abortions per 1,000 children born alive in a year. More children were born in 2021 than in previous years. In addition, there were fewer abortions. The abortion ratio fell from 169 in 2020 to 157 in 2021.


About a third of all terminations of pregnancy occur in women who have undergone previous abortions. In 10% of the women treated, two or more abortions have preceded them. This is similar to previous years.

Number of previous abortions
Source: IGJ.co.uk

Contraception after abortion

Almost half of the women were referred to their GP for contraception by the abortion clinic. Are you curious about how contraceptive care is used at the abortion clinic to prevent repeat abortions? Read here more on the Women's Medical Centre's research on removing financial barriers for vulnerable women to choose long-term contraception after abortion.