The dispute over the advertising ban has served as a substitute debate for abortion rights for far too long. Its abolition does not make a single abortion easier, but restores a fundamental right for millions of women: freedom of information.
The advertising ban for abortions is history. This is a victory for women in Germany – even if not all of them see it that way. And that is her right. Actually, it was never about advertising. The name of the paragraph alone was misleading. It was about factual information about an intervention that is now being disputed in the second generation. Unfortunately, over the years, ideological and religious convictions have also mixed into the debate about the abolition of paragraph 219a, which actually have no place there.
Anyone who has ever exchanged views on the subject with friends or colleagues knows that the question quickly no longer arises as to whether doctors are allowed to provide information that and how they carry out abortions. Instead, people are suddenly arguing again about the limits of female self-determination or the protection of unborn life. But the advertising ban is not suitable as a substitute debate for abortion rights.
It must be clear what we are talking about. Section 219a allowed doctors to be prosecuted for providing information that they were performing abortions and what procedures they were using. The case of the Gießen doctor Kristina Hänel, who was sentenced to a fine because she had disseminated “factual information about a medical intervention” on her practice website, became prominent. In doing so, she made herself a target for militant opponents of abortion. With their criminal charges, they have now achieved the exact opposite of what they had in mind. And that’s good.
Better information ≠ more crashes
Unintentionally pregnant women must have the right to make such a serious decision based on the best information they can. It is not enough to tell them where the nearest Pro-Familia advice center is. It must be legitimate to seek information from doctors on the Internet “under the radar”. Because the truth also includes: abortion is still a taboo subject. Many women – especially very young ones – have inhibitions about revealing themselves in their situation. Others simply want to be alone with the question of whether they want to keep the child. Anonymous sources of information also help them.
Incidentally, it is a fundamental misunderstanding to assume that counseling and information about abortion would automatically lead to more abortions. By no means all unwanted pregnancies end early. In Germany, around a third of all pregnancies are unwanted. In fact, only 94,600 were canceled in 2021. Why shouldn’t more accessible information (including about possible complications of the procedure) lead to more women choosing not to have an abortion?
The fact that Section 219a has existed for so long is a fundamental evil in a society that prides itself on being particularly progressive when it comes to issues of equality. Because the legislature not only accused doctors of wanting to profit from the plight of unintentionally pregnant women. He also accused women of making careless decisions about the life and death of their children. Quite a few people still argue that women are in a kind of hormonal disorder and influenced by “advertising” are not in a position to make a well-considered decision. They, too, are advised to obtain better information in the future – gladly also on Ms. Hänel’s homepage.