The leader of a Dutch Christian fundamentalist party has said that women who are raped seldom become pregnant. Asked whether he agreed with remarks by US congressman Todd Akin, who believes that women have a natural defence mechanism that prevents them from becoming pregnant if they are raped, SGP leader Kees van der Staaij said “that is a fact. It seldom happens.”
Van der Staaij’s remarks, made in the run-up to the general elections on September 12, caused a storm of protest, particularly from left-wing parties. Labour Party MP Jetta Klijnsma said she was “shocked” and urged van der Staaij to apologise to all women in the Netherlands. The Green Left leader Jolande Sap described the statements as “ridiculous. I’m afraid that a biology lesson wouldn’t be enough for him”.
The SGP strongly opposes abortion. According to van der Staaij, “we are, under all circumstances, for the unborn life”. But, he added, “even though the chances of becoming pregnant after being raped are small, the problems the victims face are enormous”. These women, he said, deserve to be treated with “a lot of compassion”.
Seven percent of women who are raped become pregnant, according to a study by a renowned Dutch institute on sexual and reproductive health and rights. Van der Staaij quoted a figure of 0,5 percent. One out of every 100 Dutch women between the ages of 15 and 70 has become pregnant as the result of sexual violence. Half of them had an abortion, 20% had a miscarriage, and the rest gave birth.
Figures from Statistics Netherlands indicate that 1580 women were raped in the Netherlands last year. 111 reportedly became pregnant. In this country, 28,000 abortions are carried out every year. Abortions were fully legalised in the Netherlands in 1984 and can be carried out till the 21st week of pregnancy.