A Hitler-Era Abortion Law Haunts Merkel, and Germany
By MELISSA EDDY
MARCH 27, 2018
BERLIN — She was an obscure gynecologist in a central German town who never intended to stoke a debate that is driving a wedge into Chancellor Angela Merkel’s new government. But faced with a fine under a Nazi-era law for publishing information about abortion on the website of her gynecological practice, Kristina Hänel said she had no choice but to publicize a prohibition that she calls “outdated and unnecessary.”
The law, paragraph 219a of the German criminal code, makes it a crime for doctors to publicly advertise in any way that they perform abortions, even though they are permitted in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. For decades, the advertising ban was largely overlooked. Many gynecologists who listed abortion among their offerings to prospective patients say they were not aware of its existence until they received notice from a prosecutor informing them of legal proceedings against them.