German Doctor Found Guilty of ‘Advertising’ Abortion, Forced to Pay Fine

Kristina Hänel, a 61-year-old German doctor, must pay 6,000 euros (about $7,120) after a district court found her guilty of “advertising” abortion. She faced up to two years in jail for breaking paragraph 219a of the German criminal code, but the judge agreed with the sentence requested by the prosecution.

“The lawmakers do not want abortion to be talked about in public as if it is a normal thing,” the judge said, adding that it was not a “normal” procedure like removing an appendix.

This case exemplifies Germany’s complicated relationship with abortion. Having an abortion is technically illegal in Germany. According to the criminal code, anyone who has an abortion can face up to three years in jail. Abortion is permitted only in the first 12 weeks and after the woman attends a counseling session three days before the procedure. Exceptions are also made if the mother’s life is in danger.

Dr. Hänel did not break the law, technically, by performing abortions or even by providing information about abortions on her website. Where she broke the law, according to the court, is by telling prospective patients to bring either proof of health insurance or cash to the appointment. A subsection of the abortion law prohibits advertising abortion services in a way that is “to one’s own economic advantage.”

Dr. Hänel’s lawyer argued that she wasn’t advertising abortion but providing necessary information to her patients. Indeed, it sure sounds like the judge’s decision was based on personal beliefs rather than legal grounds.

“I want these women to receive information,” says Hänel, who has been providing abortions for over 30 years. “The right to information is a human right, it’s about health education.”

She added that she doesn’t need to advertise for abortion because women come to her anyway, as they have for years.

“I don’t do it to bring women to me,” she says. “They come anyway, I don’t need to.”

This law, which Hänel calls “outdated and superfluous,” has been used to intimidate other doctors and keep them from sharing information regarding abortion. Essentially, it’s a scare tactic used to keep women in the dark about their options.

This is the third time Hänel has been reported for the same offense, but the first time she’s gone to court over it.

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

45 comments

Chad A
Chad Andersonabout a month ago

Thank you.

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Janis K
Janis K1 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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John W
John W1 months ago

I agree with the German law on this. Abortion should only be legal for the reasons stated and not used as a means of contraception.

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Ann B
Ann B1 months ago

i will have to disagree with this it is a woman's body and her choice many cant feed and care for the children they have and we are over populated....religion always was a factor but not anymore --- it is a CHOICE

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Janis K
Janis K1 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Winn A
Winn A1 months ago

Tks

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Winn A
Winn A1 months ago

Agree with Freya H.

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Freya H
Freya H1 months ago

Lenore K, Donn M, where will you be when all those unwanted babies are born? Oh, you don't have to tell me because I know exactly where you will be - howling for the next batch of embryos and fetuses, while ignoring all the children suffering from hunger, neglect and poverty.

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Elaine W
Elaine W1 months ago

Injustice noted.

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Liliana G
Liliana G1 months ago

It's difficult to understand the reasoning here. I believe as Wesley here stated, asking about payment options is not part of the issue in any way.

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