Advertising ban for abortions: Bundestag decides to delete paragraph 219a

Ban on advertising abortion
Bundestag decides to delete paragraph 219a

The Bundestag has been debating criminal law paragraph 219a for years. He regulated the ban on advertising for abortions. However, even with detailed information, doctors had to fear investigations against them. The traffic light now ends the practice.

The Bundestag has decided to abolish the so-called advertising ban for abortions. The coalition factions of SPD, Greens and FDP as well as the left faction voted for the deletion of criminal law paragraph 219a. Union and AfD voted against it. The paragraph prohibited medical practices and clinics from providing detailed information about the different methods of termination.

The abolition of the paragraph is the first project of Federal Justice Minister Marco Buschmann in his term of office. “It’s high time,” said the FDP politician in the final debate in the Bundestag. Every conviction under criminal law paragraph 219a is “one conviction too many”. Buschmann explained that when a woman deals with the difficult question of a possible termination of pregnancy, she “usually” first looks for information on the Internet these days. There “every troll and every conspiracy theorist” can spread things on the subject – highly qualified doctors, however, are forbidden. “It’s absurd, it’s out of date, it’s unfair and that’s why we’re ending this situation.”

Buschmann dismissed concerns that the deletion of paragraph 219a would affect the protection of unborn life. This protection is anchored in criminal law paragraph 218 – the two paragraphs must be “kept strictly apart”. “Commercializing and trivializing advertising” for abortions will still not exist, stressed the Minister of Justice. This is contrary to the medical professional law. “It is time for more trust in doctors and it is time for more freedom of information for women,” Buschmann summed up.

CDU: “We also think about the child’s right to life”

Sharp criticism came from the Union faction. The traffic light coalition is primarily concerned with “producing a sense of achievement together” for reasons of “group dynamics,” said the chairwoman of the legal committee, Elisabeth Winkelmeier-Becker. Everyone can understand the difficult situation of an unwanted pregnant woman. “But we also think about the child’s right to life – and that’s the main difference that I see between us,” said Winkelmeier-Becker, addressing the coalition factions. The Union therefore wants to stick to the current regulation. The deletion of 219a would enable “proactive advertising on the Internet,” warned the CDU politician. This suggests that an abortion “is about normal medical treatment,” which is not the case.

Federal Family Minister Lisa Paus described the planned end of the so-called advertising ban as a “triumph” in the morning. In this way, the self-determination of women in Germany is strengthened, said the Green politician. “Doctors can finally provide factual information about an abortion without having to fear criminal prosecution or stigmatization,” said Paus. “Today is a good day for the doctors in Germany – and especially for the women in our country.”

Paragraph 219a regulated the ban on advertising for abortions. At the same time, however, it also means that doctors cannot publicly offer detailed information about abortions without fear of prosecution. The SPD had already wanted to delete the passage in the previous legislative period. However, due to opposition from the Union, it was only revised. After that, other doctors were sentenced for it.

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