‘Abortion in Germany – where providing information is a crime’


'Abortion in Germany - where providing information is a crime'

The Local
12 February 2018

It is high time that Germany scraps a 1930s law that forbids doctors from providing women with complete information on how to terminate a pregnancy, argues Kate Cahoon.

Germany is seen as a pretty liberal country. Alcohol is sold in supermarkets and is practically cheaper than bottled water, kids can buy a large enough quantity of fireworks to blow up a small house, and gay marriage is legal (okay, only since last year, but Christopher Street Day in Berlin attracts such a crowd it’s almost a public holiday). But there are some things you can’t do – particularly if you’re a woman and say, pregnant, or a doctor who carries out pregnancy terminations.

Continued: https://www.thelocal.de/20180212/abortion-in-germany-where-providing-information-is-a-crime

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Germany’s ambiguous abortion laws rankle with all sides


Germany’s ambiguous abortion laws rankle with all sides
The country’s vague regulations are stirring tensions with both camps seeking change

Mon, Feb 5, 2018
Derek Scally

It’s almost 20 years ago, but Annika* remembers her abortion clearly. It was 1999, she had just moved from Zürich to Berlin with her two children after the break-up of her marriage.

It was only during the second, hassled month of building a new life in the German capital that she noticed her period hadn’t arrived.

Continued: https://www.irishtimes.com/news/world/europe/germany-s-ambiguous-abortion-laws-rankle-with-all-sides-1.3379731

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German doctor lodges petition to change abortion law


German doctor lodges petition to change abortion law

A doctor fined for "advertising" abortions has presented a petition with 150,000 signatures to Parliament, demanding Germany's law be changed. Kristina Hänel says women have the right to information about the procedure.
Kristina Hänel and her supporters hold a sign with the number of signatures they have collected

Doctor Kristina Hänel handed over the petition with more than 150,000 signatures to members of Germany's Bundestag on Tuesday, urging them to scrap paragraph 219a of the criminal code.

Continued at source: http://www.dw.com/en/german-doctor-lodges-petition-to-change-abortion-law/a-41764640

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German doctor fined for illegally ‘advertising’ abortions


German doctor fined for illegally 'advertising' abortions
Nov 24, 2017

Pro-life activists have taken a doctor to court over information she provides for her patients online. The case shows how complicated Germany's laws regulating abortion are – and that the issue is highly contentious.

Kristina Hänel, a general practitioner in the central German city of Giessen, received a €6,000 fine in court on Friday because of a single word on her practice's website. On the list of services she offers, Hänel includes family planning, sex counseling — and abortions.

Pro-life activists from the radical "Never again" initiative have sued her for this. They say Hänel is breaking the law, based on a rule stipulated in paragraph 219a of the German criminal code. It states that anyone who publicly "offers, announces [or] advertises" abortion services is to be punished with up to two years in jail or must pay a fine.

Continued at source: http://www.dw.com/en/german-doctor-fined-for-illegally-advertising-abortions/a-40598436

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Germany: Doctor who ‘advertised’ abortion on her website fined €6,000


Doctor who ‘advertised’ abortion on her website fined €6,000

DPA/The Local
24 November 2017

A doctor who published information for women about abortions on her website has been fined €6,000 for breaking German criminal law.

61-year-old Doctor Kristina Hänel was found guilty by a district court in Gießen on Friday of “advertising” abortion on her website.

“The lawmakers do not want abortion to be talked about in public as if it is a normal thing,” the judge said in her ruling.

Continued at source: https://www.thelocal.de/20171124/doctor-who-advertised-abortion-on-her-website-fined-6000

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Germany: Doctor faces up to two years’ jail for ‘advertising’ abortion on her website


Doctor faces up to two years' jail for 'advertising' abortion on her website
DPA/The Local
23 November 2017

This week a doctor will face court in Gießen on Friday for "advertising abortion," which is illegal under German law, after putting information about the procedure up on her website.

61-year-old Doctor Kristina Hänel could be in a whole lot of trouble because she offered information on her internet site about the abortions she performs.

Continued at source: https://www.thelocal.de/20171123/trial-begins-for-doctor-accused-of-advertising-abortion

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5 things to know about abortion in Germany


5 things to know about abortion in Germany

Lucinda Watts
14 September 2017

In Germany, abortion is not the lightning rod for liberal and conservative anger that it is the US. But the fact that it is technically illegal under the constitution is just one issue that still stirs debate.

Continued at source: The Local: https://www.thelocal.de/20170914/5-things-to-know-about-abortion-in-germany

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Strict law pushes Polish women to have abortions abroad


Published November 03, 2016 Associated Press

PRENZLAU, Germany – While the streets of Warsaw have been engulfed by vehement protests over the government's plan to further restrict abortion, individual Polish women are struggling daily to find ways of ending their unwanted pregnancies.

Monika, 19, had recently split up with her boyfriend when she realized with horror that she was pregnant. With no partner, no money and years of education ahead, she felt an abortion was her only option. But abortion in Poland is illegal in most cases and even when she tracked down a doctor rumored to bend the rules, he refused.

[continued at link]
Source: Associated Press

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A divided Poland mulls total abortion ban

Pro-choice campaigners protest during a march against proposed changes to Poland’s abortion law in Warsaw, Poland, Saturday, June 18, 2016. (AP Photo /Czarek Sokolowski)


Agence France-Presse
01:16 PM July 3rd, 2016

PRENZLAU, Germany—A 35-year-old woman rests on her hospital bed in Germany after an abortion. Her staunchly Catholic country, Poland, has one of Europe’s most restrictive termination laws, so she and her partner drove just over the border.

“We told no one. Because I know it’s forbidden, because I was afraid, even of people’s reactions,” said the mother-of-one who wished to remain anonymous.

Now Poland is mulling a near-total ban, even as tens of thousands of women opt for sometimes risky illegal abortions or, if they can afford it, travel to foreign hospitals like this one in the town of Prenzlau.

When the woman and her partner learnt they were having twins, they were overjoyed. Then there were complications. One died. Doctors could not say for sure if the other would be healthy.

“It’s a hard decision for everyone, traumatic. I simply had really bad test results,” the woman, a lapsed Catholic, told AFP.

Passed in 1993, the current legislation bans all terminations unless there was rape or incest, the pregnancy poses a health risk to the mother or the foetus is severely deformed.

This week, anti-abortion activists plan to submit a petition to parliament, controlled by conservatives since November, that would allow abortion only if the mother’s life is at risk.

Such citizen’s initiatives are admissible with at least 100,000 signatures—this one has garnered more than 375,000—and usually end up in a parliamentary vote.

The initiative calls for increasing the maximum jail penalty for practitioners from two years to five. It also makes mothers liable, though judges could waive punishment in their case.

Abortion “is just as wrong as allowing the murder of any other group of people,” said Mariusz Dzierzawski, 60, head of the pro-life group behind the project.

“It’s like how the Germans said it was okay to murder Jews. And children before birth are an even broader category,” the father of three adult daughters told AFP.

Hot button issue

The proposal has also won the backing of top bishops, though its provisions to penalise women have since divided the Church.

The leader of the governing conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, said, “On these kinds of issues, as a Catholic I follow the teaching of the bishops.”

But as a lifelong bachelor, he was quickly challenged by former first lady and mother-of-eight Danuta Walesa: “What do you know about the life of bees since you don’t live in a beehive?”

The proposal, which the Council of Europe called “serious backsliding on women’s rights,” also inspired several pro-choice marches and a rival drive to liberalise the law.

There are signs the conservatives are aware the hot button issue divides Poles. Dzierzawski said PiS politicians initially tried to talk him out of presenting the initiative.

One 53-year-old Warsaw woman, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told AFP she got pregnant at 21 and panicked.

“I was trying to get into college. I thought everything was falling apart. All my plans…,” she said.

She chose to abort, against her boyfriend’s wishes. They wound up marrying and having two children before he left. She blames the abortion.

“When I think about grandkids, then I remember what happened. That there could have been more kids,” she said. “It’s starting to eat away at me, oppress me. And it will be like that for the rest of my life.”

Arguing that restricted access gives women a chance to think twice, she backs the status quo.

As do most Poles, according to an April survey from independent pollsters CBOS, which saw support for the exceptions range from 58 percent (incest) to 84 percent (risk to mother’s life).

Only a little over 10 percent said a woman should be allowed to abort if she is in financial straits or does not want children.

Doctors afraid

Yet another CBOS survey from 2013 found that every third or fourth Polish woman has had an abortion.

“It’s do as I say, not as I do,” said Krystyna Kacpura, director of the pro-choice Federation for Women and Family Planning.

The country of 38 million people sees under 2,000 legal abortions a year, but Kacpura estimates that another 100,000-150,000 procedures are performed illegally or abroad.

One Slovak clinic even has a Polish-language website and phone line, plus drivers who will pick women up at designated spots in several Polish cities.

The public hospital in Prenzlau does “quite a few” Polish surgical abortions, according to Janusz Rudzinski, a Polish doctor there who has lived in Germany for decades.

“They’re mostly middle-class, but actresses also come, famous too. Politicians’ wives, bank directors,” he told AFP, saying he has even had the occasional nun or priest plus girlfriend.

For those who stay home, there are Internet offers of pills that “induce menstruation” or doctors like an anaesthesiologist arrested last month for performing a medical abortion on the sly.

Other doctors have signed a conscience clause, opting out of performing abortions, even the legal ones. The southern Podkarpackie region made headlines when every doctor signed.

Rudzinski said he gets around 50 calls a day from Poland, not always for appointments. Many women just need an ear.

“In Poland, they simply don’t have anyone they can honestly talk to right now,” he said.

Source: Inquirer.net

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German late abortion drama brings Berlinale to tears

Julia Jentsch and Bjarn Mädel in 24 Weeks. Photo: DPA


The Local de

"24 Weeks", a harrowing German drama about a couple struggling to decide whether to have a late-term abortion, moved the audience to tears at its Berlin film festival premiere Sunday.

The film by Anne Zohra Berrached, 33, tackles a thorny issue in a country in which, according to the producers, more than 90 percent of parents terminate pregnancies in which the foetus is severely disabled. The subject, however, is rarely discussed.

The picture, set in ex-communist east Germany, tells the story of a cabaret performer and her manager husband who already have one child and learn she is pregnant with a second.

However the pair, Astrid and Markus, discover during a prenatal examination that the child will have Down syndrome. Later, in the sixth month of pregnancy, they hear that the boy has congenital heart problems that will require multiple surgeries he may not survive.

Teams of specialists, all played by actual doctors, offer advice to the couple based on their medical expertise. But they leave the parents to wrestle with the complex ethical questions about whether to have the child.

The film presents a society in which religion hardly plays a role but where the abuses under Adolf Hitler, in which 300,000 ill and disabled people were systematically murdered by the Nazis, loom large.

When a babysitter speaks critically of severely disabled children and wonders aloud whether their lives are worth living, Astrid attacks her as a "fascist".

The weight of the choice begins to strain the couple's marriage and their relationship with Astrid's mother, who moves into care for their daughter.

"It was very important for me to do a film which concerns primarily the conflict of making a decision as a couple," Berrached told reporters.

"That's what I wanted to focus on. I didn't want to do a segment for a television news show or something like that."

Berrached, who finished the picture as part of earning her film degree, said the team had spoken to three women who had faced similar choices.

The filmmakers admitted after a well-received press preview that the subject remained a taboo in Germany and could scare off potential distributors in more socially conservative countries such as Poland and Italy.

Astrid is played by Julia Jentsch, 37, who won the festival's Silver Bear best actress prize in 2005 for her turn as a Nazi resistance martyr in "Sophie Scholl - The Final Days".

Critics said she could also be a frontrunner for acting honours this year on awards night Saturday, when a jury led by actress Meryl Streep hands out the prizes.

Source: http://www.thelocal.de

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