The Renaissance of Germany’s Abortion Rights Movement

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.