Emotional debate about the abolition of Section 219a

fNormally, deleting a norm is the easiest exercise. “Paragraph 219a will be repealed,” reads the draft law passed by the Federal Cabinet on March 9th. The procedure for the abolition of the advertising ban for abortions also got underway quickly because there was a great deal of agreement between the traffic light parties on this issue. The draft law had its first reading in the Bundestag on Friday. In the sometimes emotional debate, the danger became clear that the old culture war over abortion would be revived.

Currently, the Criminal Code prohibits offering, promoting or promoting abortion for pecuniary gain or “in a grossly offensive manner” under penalty of a fine or up to two years in prison. Doctors who advertised on their website that they perform abortions and described their methods were then condemned. Since the norm was changed last legislature, physicians are allowed to state that they perform abortions and refer them to independent bodies for more information.

Marco Buschmann, the Federal Minister of Justice from the FDP, described this legal situation as “absurd”. “On the internet, we allow any conspiracy theorist, any fake news slinger, to spout any nonsense about abortion. But we forbid qualified doctors as guardians of science, facts, objectivity and enlightenment to provide factual information.” That is an “anachronism”.

“The abortion does not belong in criminal law”

Buschmann tried to prevent criticism from the Union: There is no danger of repulsive advertising for abortions, which prevents, among other things, professional law. In addition, the Minister of Justice assured that the deletion of paragraph 219a “has no impact on the life protection concept of 218”. It regulates the criminal liability of abortion, including exceptions.

This assurance was not particularly convincing, because shortly afterwards the new Green Minister for Family Affairs, Lisa Paus, herself advocated untying the compromise on Paragraph 218. “Abortion is not part of criminal law,” she said. The coalition agreement provides for a commission to be set up to examine the regulation of abortions outside of the penal code.

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The SPD MP Carmen Wegge was happy about the “moment for which so many women have taken to the streets for decades”, it was a “beautiful moment”. With this choice of words, she provoked the Union, which considers the deletion of the norm to be the wrong way anyway. Dorothee Bär (CSU), deputy leader of the Union faction, was “shocked”.

That’s not the “spirit that this debate should breathe,” she said, accusing the traffic light of disregarding the unborn child when it’s called a “cluster of cells” or when abortion is treated as an intervention like any other. Traffic light speakers replied that this had nothing to do with paragraph 219a.

The Union has submitted its own application that wants to modify the norm in such a way that doctors can provide non-judgmental information on the methods they use to carry out an abortion on their website. She also calls for the cost of contraceptives to be expanded.

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