Dr. J. Rutgers
Johannes Rutgers (1850-1924) was a parson in the Dutch Reformed Church before he started training as a medical doctor after a severe religious crisis. He became a general practitioner in Rotterdam, and with his wife Wilhelmina Hoitsema (1847-1934) drifted into radical politics, mainly feminism and socialism. Rutgers was a great admirer of Ferdinand Domela Nieuwenhuis, the anarchist leader in the Netherlands, whom he personally gave advice on the use of condoms. As a socialist, he was critical of Malthusian claims of contraception as a solution to overpopulation and poverty, but he did not reject eugenics. He became the secretary and driving power in the NMB in 1900; his wife was president. Impatient with the small number of doctors willing to support the NMB he trained nurses and midwives to supply women with pessaries. He deliberately accepted the risk that these so-called "expert collaborators" of the NMB would practice abortion, though he condemned this in public. As a result of this, the NMB lost practically all support from the medical profession for a long time.