Germany moves to reform abortion law

The government is following through on its pledge to decriminalize abortion. Officials plan to abolish a law that subjects doctors who publish information on abortion procedures to prosecution.

Elizabeth Schumacher

"I really struggled to find information online," said Verena, who was 22 when she found herself dealing with an unwanted pregnancy. "There was no easy way to find out which doctors perform abortions, where they are or how the procedure is performed."

Abortion is illegal in Germany and punishable by up to three years in prison. But the women and their doctors do not face penalties if the pregnancy poses a health risk to the woman or in cases of rape. Otherwise, an abortion may be carried out within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy (14 weeks since the last period) after mandatory counseling. However, many barriers remain.


Germany scraps Nazi-era law that barred doctors’ abortion ads

Majority vote ends law banning doctors from offering information about abortion procedures

Philip Oltermann in Berlin
Fri 24 Jun 2022

Germany has abolished a Nazi-era law that criminalises doctors who provide information about abortion procedures.

The governing social democrat, liberal and green parties, as well as the leftwing Die Linke, provided sufficient votes on Friday to scrap paragraph 219a of the German criminal code, which meant any doctor who publicly “offers, announces [or] advertises” abortion services could face penalties of up to two years’ imprisonment or a fine.


Germany’s new government to scrap Nazi-era abortion law

Doctors are currently banned from advertising abortion services and offering information online

Kate Connolly in Berlin
Tue 18 Jan 2022

A Nazi-era law banning doctors from giving women information about abortions is to be scrapped by Germany’s new government in a decision welcomed by activists who have long argued that it has hampered women’s ability to make informed choices.

The justice minister, Marco Buschmann, said that he will ditch Paragraph 219a from the penal code after almost 90 years, meaning that doctors will no longer have to fear prosecution if they provide information about the procedure.


On abortion, Germany is not as liberal as you may think

By David Braneck 
Updated: 05/11/2021

When it comes to Europe's strictest abortion laws, Poland, Malta and San Marino are among the countries that tend to hog the headlines.

Yet even in progressive Germany, there are
rumblings about the repressive nature of restrictions around terminations.


German activist fined for comparing abortion-performing physicians to Nazis

Hamburg court rules against anti-abortion agitator Klaus Gunter Annen, fines him $7,000 after doctor files injunction against him

August 27, 2020

JTA — A court in Germany fined an anti-abortion activist for comparing physicians who perform the practice to Nazi doctors during the Holocaust.

The District Court of Hamburg ruled Monday on a petition for an injunction filed by Dr. Kristina Hanel of Giessen, a city in western Germany, against Klaus Gunter Annen, who runs a website titled


Coronavirus Created an Obstacle Course for Safe Abortions

Coronavirus Created an Obstacle Course for Safe Abortions
But during the pandemic, a few countries liberalized their requirements, allowing at-home medical terminations.

By Matina Stevis-Gridneff, Alisha Haridasani Gupta and Monika Pronczuk
June 14, 2020

BRUSSELS — When a 19-year-old woman from southern Poland decided to end her pregnancy at 18 weeks, she knew the only way to get an abortion was to rush to a neighboring European country.

Abortion is illegal in most circumstances in Poland, and so for years, many women have traveled within Europe to seek the procedure.

But it was April, and across the continent, borders were closing fast because of the coronavirus pandemic. So she and a friend loaded up their Renault with instant noodles and candy for a 14-hour race to Utrecht, in the Netherlands. They made it just in time for her to have the procedure and return home, her friend said.


Activists in Germany demand legalization of abortion

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.

Clara Suchy

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."


German court overturns abortion advertising conviction

German court overturns abortion advertising conviction

July 3, 2019

BERLIN (AP) — A German court has overturned a doctor’s conviction for advertising abortions after the government loosened rules on the issue.

Kristina Haenel was fined 6,000 euros ($6,775) in 2017 by a court in Giessen after stating on her website that she carried out abortions. That violated a German law that bans “advertising” the procedure, and which carries a fine or a prison sentence of up to two years.

A higher court in Frankfurt said Wednesday it overturned the conviction and ordered a retrial. The ruling followed a compromise reached by Germany’s governing coalition earlier this year. Under the deal, the ban formally remains but doctors and hospitals are allowed to say on their websites they perform abortions, without giving more detailed information.


German parties reach deal on softening Nazi-era abortion law

German parties reach deal on softening Nazi-era abortion law
Doctors would be able to share information about terminations if bill is approved

Agence France-Presse
Tue 29 Jan 2019

Germany’s coalition government agreed in principle on Tuesday to soften a Nazi-era law that forbids doctors from advertising or providing information on abortion services.

It would allow gynaecologists, hospitals and public health services to share essential information about where and how women can terminate unwanted pregnancies.


A Hitler-Era Abortion Law Haunts Merkel, and Germany

A Hitler-Era Abortion Law Haunts Merkel, and Germany

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.