Germany Reaches Compromise Over Nazi-Era Abortion Law

After months of debate, the various parties of the German government have agreed to compromise and ease restrictions on the country’s Nazi-era abortion law which forbids “advertising” abortion. Politicians are heralding the agreement as a success, but many activists disagree, saying the changes don’t go nearly far enough.

The law in question, paragraph 219a of the German criminal code, technically prohibits the advertising of abortion services, although it has been used to scare doctors away from providing any information about abortion whatsoever.

Public debate about the law has come to a head in the last year, after Kristina Hänel, a 61-year-old German doctor, was found guilty of “advertising” abortion. Hänel faced up to two years in jail but was only sentenced to pay a fine of 6,000 Euros ($6,883). She was convicted not because she provided abortion services or even because she informed patients about these services but because she included information on her website about how patients could pay for their appointments.

Protests against the abortion law took place in 30 cities across Germany on Saturday, with activists fighting what they see as a ban on women’s right to information.

“I am a doctor and I consider it my responsibility as a doctor to treat and inform women,” said Dr. Hänel, at one of several protests. “I consider it a question of conscience not to withhold such necessary assistance from women, leaving them instead to the coat-hanger or knitting needle.”

On Tuesday, the government came to a compromise regarding the clause. Several parties pushed scrapping the law altogether, but Angela Merkel’s party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), refused. The revised version of the law will supposedly allow doctors and hospitals to share essential information about obtaining an abortion.

Despite the compromise being seen as a defeat for the Social Democrats (SPD), SPD leader Andrea Nahles tweeted that thanks to the agreement “women are finally getting the information they need.”

Dr. Hänel disagrees.

“In fact, the compromise is nothing but a sellout,” she said. According to Dr. Hänel, any word that doctors say beyond informing patients that they provide abortion would still be illegal under the proposed law.

Abortion in Germany is legally complicated. The law states that abortion is punishable by up to three years in jail, although technically abortion is permitted up to 12 weeks, if a woman attends a counseling session.

Even when a woman is legally allowed to obtain an abortion, doing so in practice can be a challenge. The current laws regarding abortion make it very difficult for women to find out where and how to get an abortion, and, with few exceptions, abortion is not covered by health insurance.

The bill is expected to be approved by Merkel’s cabinet next week and then pass in both houses of Congress.

Related at Care2

Photo Credit: Women's eNews

50 comments

Mia B
Melisa B2 months ago

Thank you for sharing

SEND
Janis K
Janis K2 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

SEND
Dr. Jan Hill
Dr. Jan Hill2 months ago

thanks

SEND
Janis K
Janis K2 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

SEND
Carol J
Carol Johnson2 months ago

Thanks for sharing

SEND
Irene S
Irene S2 months ago

This is such a shame! I signed a petition to abolish that paragraph for good, but it didn´t help. But although they prevented the abolition, Merkel´s party is conservative, not right-wing. And real conservatives conserve everything, even Nazi laws, if they fit their world view. Our real right-wing party, AfD would certainly support abortion for immigrants and ban it for "pure blood" Germans.

SEND
Leo C
Leo C2 months ago

Thank you for posting!

SEND
Leo C
Leo C2 months ago

Thank you for sharing!

SEND
Tania N
Tania N2 months ago

Thank you for sharing

SEND
Tania N
Tania N2 months ago

Thank you for sharing

SEND