In the Netherlands the first baby conceived by means of in vitro fertilization (IVF) was born in 1983. Since then, the use of IVF has rapidly increased. The prevailing liberal social climate and the changed attitudes toward procreation among Dutch women contributed greatly to this rapid growth. From the early 1970s onward, the use of contraceptives became more widespread and effective. The rates of abortion and teenage pregnancies are lower and decreasing. Women systematically postpone childbearing to a later age (in 1995, the age of women giving birth to their first baby was on average twenty-eight and a half years), the number of children born per woman has decreased considerably, and the proportion of women who choose not to bear children at all is on the increase (in 1990, some 15 percent of women born in 1950 had had no children). The idea of planned parenthood is firmly rooted in Dutch society. At the same time, many women who fail to become pregnant during the period they have chosen usually request immediate medical intervention. The number of so-called impatient consults for IVF is increasing.
In the Netherlands the provision of IVF through the health care system is regulated by the 1989 ministerial decree Planningsbesluit IVF, which introduced licensing for the IVF laboratories operating in the hospitals offering IVF programs. In order to be eligible for an IVF license, a hospital has to fulfill a number of requirements that must guarantee the quality of the medical service. The requirements include the necessary qualifications