Information about abortion should soon be free of punishment

Status: 01/17/2022 2:18 p.m

It will soon no longer be a punishable offense for medical practices to provide information about abortions on the Internet. Minister of Justice Buschmann presented a draft bill. The opposition partly agrees, partly disagrees.

The criminal law paragraph on the advertising ban for abortions is to be repealed. Federal Minister of Justice Marco Buschmann has now submitted a draft for the repeal of Paragraph 219a, which prohibits “advertising for the termination of pregnancy”.

“Advertising” already includes detailed information about various methods of abortion and the associated risks.

“Protection concept of unborn life remains”

As a result of the change, it should no longer be a criminal offense for medical practices to provide information about abortions on their website. However, this does not change the protection concept for unborn life, Buschmann emphasized in a press conference.

The change “only relieves doctors’ concerns if they want to provide factual information about abortions”. We have to adapt the law to reality, said the FDP politician. The paragraph comes from a time when there was no internet.

Buschmann emphasized that the law must be adapted to reality.

Union against repeal – left for it

The Union in the Bundestag opposes it. At the moment, the mainstream seems to be against the existing regulation, said the chairwoman of the Bundestag legal committee, Elisabeth Winkelmeier-Becker (CDU), the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung”. At the same time, she emphasized: “It’s about the mother’s right to self-determination, but also about the life of the unborn child.” In addition, the assertion that Section 219a suppresses information is wrong: “There is no information deficit.”

Winkelmeier-Becker defended the restrictions that paragraph 219a puts on doctors for their websites. “Here there is a difficult distinction between pure information and advertising.” For example, if it says that you hardly feel anything during the procedure: is that still information, or is it advertising?”

The deputy also expressed doubts as to whether the deletion of the paragraph would be compatible with the Basic Law.

The left supports the project. If the draft bill announced by Buschmann actually contains an abolition of the law, “we will of course support that and will agree to it,” said party leader Janine Wissler.

Coordination with other departments

The draft should soon be coordinated with the other departments of the federal government. The SPD, Greens and FDP had agreed in their coalition agreement that “doctors should be able to provide public information about abortions in the future without having to fear criminal prosecution”. They also stated in it:

The possibility of free abortions is part of reliable health care.

Only since a change in the law in 2019 have medical practices been allowed to provide information, for example on their website, that they are carrying out such interventions. Further information, for example about the type of demolition, remained prohibited.

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