German Law Makes It Easier to Advertise for Abortions

News: World News
by Church Militant  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  March 1, 2019   

'Compromise' vote relaxes abortion restrictions

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By Martin Bürger

Germany is relaxing restrictions on advertising for abortions.

The parliament recently voted on a new law in which "doctors, hospitals and institutions" will be allowed to make known publicly that they perform abortions, as well as pointing their patients to government-sanctioned informational materials on abortion. The Bundesärztekammer (German Medical Association) will publish a list of doctors who perform abortions, including the methods they use.

The law was introduced by the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), the Christian Social Union (CSU) and the Social Democrats (SPD). Those parties have the majority in parliament and include the chancellor as well as cabinet ministers. Three hundred seventy-one members of parliament voted for the reform of the German penal code. Only one member of the Christian parties voted against it.

But in the wake of the sexual revolution of the 1960s and 1970s, that paragraph was amended to state that under certain very liberal conditions an abortion will not be punished.

Veronika Bellmann, who represents a district in the eastern part of Germany, explained her decision to media, saying that the Christian parties tried to resist the SPD's attempt to remove the paragraph in the penal code banning abortion advertising.

What we now have is "a compromise" that doesn't do away with that paragraph, while adding certain exceptions to the general rule. Paragraph 219 of the German penal code not only forbids advertising for abortions, but makes it mandatory for a pregnant woman to consult with doctors or counselors before deciding to go forward with an abortion. This consultation, according to that law, "serves the protection of unborn life."

But in practice, the "consultation" is more often than not a rubberstamping of the abortion. The women meet with the doctors or counselors, who then hand them an official paper saying they took part in a consultation, which then certifies that they can proceed with the abortion. Catholic counselors are not recognized by the government because they refuse to hand out documents that would allow doctors to perform abortions.

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Liberal members of the German hierarchy, like the late Cdl. Karl Lehmann, was involved in a scheme where Catholic counselors were rubberstamping abortions — for a fee — before the Holy See found out about the scandal and put an end to the practice.

Bellmann argued that the only reason for the SPD (as well as other parties in parliament) to do away with paragraph 219 was to do away with paragraph 218, which states that the "termination of pregnancy" is punished with a fine or up to three years in prison. But in the wake of the Sexual Revolution of the 1960s, that paragraph was amended to state that under certain liberal conditions an abortion will not be punished.

Bellmann argued that the point of the current law is to protect life, as stated in paragraph 218 (before certain exceptions are listed), as well as in paragraph 219. Thus, abortions are unlawful, which means advertising for abortions has to be forbidden, because you can't advertise something illegal.

Abortion is on the rise, with more than 100,000 abortions every year, while there are only 700,000 births.

Referring to a 1993 decision by the highest court in Germany, Bellmann explained that the government needs to "implement concrete measures for the protection of life, in order to arrive at a lasting decrease in the number of abortions." Currently, abortion is on the rise, with more than 100,000 abortions every year, while there are only 700,000 births.

It was the goal of the current law to protect unborn babies, not doctors, Bellmann said. But abortion activists argued exactly the other way around, pointing out that doctors have no legal certainty under the current law.

"So far, no gynecologist has been convicted who only informed women without doing any advertising [for abortions] or giving them any cost predictions," Bellman said. Likewise, no gynecologist who provided information mandated by law has been convicted. Beyond that, she continued, the current law does not penalize doctors who perform abortions in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

Apart from the new law proposed by CDU, CSU and SPD, there were other proposals by different parties, but they were voted down by the parliament.

The left-wing party Die Linke wanted to entirely abolish the paragraph banning abortions. Both Liberal Democrats and the Green Party supported that proposal. At the same time, members of the Green Party introduced their own (similar) legislation. Again, Die Linke voted with the Green Party, supported by the vast majority of Liberal Democrats.

 

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