“The legislature does not want to discuss the abortion in public as if it were a normal thing” sounded the verdict of a German court, condemning Dr. Kristina Hänel to a € 6,000 fine in late 2017 for providing information about abortion on her website.
How is that even possible, you ask? The answer is so-called article 219a of the German Criminal Code that prohibits promoting or spreading information on the provision of abortion services in Germany. This law was adopted in May 1933 under Nazi rule!
It is exactly this law that the German federal lower house, the Bundestag, discussed on Thursday under growing pressure from a number of civil society organizations, including the Alliance for sexual self-determination (Bündnis für Sexuelle Selbstbestimmung) of which EHF Member Organisation Humanistischer Verband Deutschlands is a proud member.
Needless to say that the EHF supports this initiative that rightly argues that article 219a prevents women from making informed decisions over their own body, whether, in the end, such information leads to a decision to terminate a pregnancy or not.
Unfortunately, the parliamentary debate of last Thursda y did not bring clarity about whether 219a will be repealed or not since the Christian Democratic Union and the right-wing populist Alternative für Deutschland are against it and the liberal FDP is split. Further debates will be held on the topic and we will be monitoring them.
In practice, our French-speaking readers might find interesting this testimony to Le Nouvel Observateur by Anna, half-French, half-German, who decided to travel back to France from Berlin to perform an abortion because not only are the costs covered by social security but the availability and quality of the information provided is incomparable.
As reported by the newspaper, the information that Dr. Hänel provided on her website and for which she was condemned – i.e. the differences between medical and surgical abortions, procedure to follow, risks and potential side effects – is what in France is available on the website of the Ministry of Health.
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