The Growing Fight Against Nazi-Era Abortion Limits
Her case exposed Germany's abortion laws for a new generation — and she's not stopping there.
By Fiona Zublin
Nov 8 2019
In 2017, Kristina Hänel — a wiry German doctor with kind eyes and a cool outdoorsy aunt vibe — became a cause. She’s a doctor who offers abortion services, and she, as others had been before her, was fined $6,700 (€6,000) for “advertising” the procedure on her website.
What sets her apart is the fight. Her ongoing battle against that fine, expected to go all the way to the European Court of Human Rights, has sparked a new interest in abortion rights among Germany’s younger generation. Hänel might seem an unlikely ringleader: The 63-year-old grandmother of five, who plays the accordion and rides horses in her spare time, spent her life focused on medicine, not activism. But performing abortions, particularly in modern Germany, is activism — and Hänel is the reason many people now know that.
Activists in Germany demand legalization of abortion
Abortion in Germany, while pratically possible for most women, technically remains a criminal offence in all cases. Opponents of the laws want a full legalization, but that alone won't improve access, some activists say.
There, in the German Criminal Code, between the laws on murder and abandonment, sit paragraphs 218 and 219. They pertain to — and criminalize — abortion in Germany. On Saturday, activists will be taking to the streets to demand the paragraphs' removal as part of a global abortion rights demonstration.
Sarah Thibol, activist with the feminist organization Frauen*Kollektiv in Cologne, is one of many planning to protest. Her personal goal is "that women realize abortions are not legal in German. So many people are surprised the first time they hear that."
Explained: Germany's plans to change controversial abortion laws
30 January 2019
Germany has agreed in principle to easing a Nazi-era law that makes it illegal for doctors to provide information on abortion services. But the move has received mixed reactions. Here’s what you need to know.
Why is abortion in the news? Germany is proposing to soften paragraph 219a which makes it a crime for doctors to ‘advertise’ abortions and share information on terminating unwanted pregnancies.
The Renaissance of Germany’s Abortion Rights Movement
By Kathleen Brown
March 15, 2018
As Germany’s natalist far right rises, a growing progressive movement is challenging the country’s Nazi-era abortion laws.
In November 2017, German doctor Kristina Hänel was found guilty of breaking Paragraph 219a of the German Criminal Code and fined €6,000 by the Gießen District Court. Her crime? Listing abortion as a medical service on her practice’s website.
Dr. Hänel was charged under Nazi-era Paragraph 219a, which criminalizes advertising abortion services. The offense is punishable with up to two years in prison for anyone who publicly “offers, announces or recommends services for pregnancy termination.” In court, Hänel’s defense lawyer argued that her website remains informational and does not meet the definition of advertising. Nonetheless, the Gießen judge found Dr. Hänel guilty, justifying the ruling, “Lawmakers do not want to discuss abortion in public as if it were a normal thing.” Except, as Dr. Hänel and many women know, abortion is a normal thing. Over 100,000 individuals in Germany choose to terminate unwanted pregnancies each year.
'Abortion in Germany - where providing information is a crime'
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.