Germany moves to ditch abortion law dating from Nazi era
Germany has moved to axe some of its abortion laws that date from the Nazi era. The change will allow doctors to give detailed factual information to women regarding the termination of a pregnancy, without fear of prosecution, and will bring Germany’s law closer in line with other European nations.
Abortion is illegal in Germany
Abortion is technically illegal in Germany, with some exceptions made for women who are fewer than 12 weeks pregnant. During the first trimester, women can have the procedure carried out on the condition that they attend a counselling session. The current law also does not allow “advertising for pregnancy termination”, which in practice means that many doctors are reluctant to give information to women seeking help, fearing the potential repercussions.
A recent case demonstrating the problem involved Kristina Hänel, a GP from Hesse, who was fined 6.000 euros in 2017 for offering advice about abortion to her patients. The case has caused alarm for many doctors who want to assist their patients in making such difficult decisions.
After years of criticism from activists claiming that existing laws do not allow women to make well-informed decisions about their options within the healthcare system, the new German government has made the decision to change the rules.
The new proposals face opposition from other political parties
While the new German government is keen to get the proposals passed swiftly, other parliamentary parties oppose the changes. CDU MP Elisabeth Winkelmeier-Becker disputed the claims that women do not get enough information from GPs to make well-informed decisions. “We’re talking about the mother’s right to self-determination, as well as about the life of the unborn child,” Winkelmeier-Becker said, in a conversation with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.
Despite these arguments, many MPs are still very supportive of the cause. Justice Minister Marco Buchmann argues that it is absurd that patients can research abortion procedures from completely unverified sources on the internet, “but that precisely those people who are qualified in this regard, are not allowed to provide the information”. If the government’s new law is successfully passed, it will see the almost 90 year-old Nazi era abortion law repealed.