On June 29, 1995, exactly 26 years ago, the German Bundestag passed the new abortion law. Since that day, a woman who performs an abortion within the first three months of pregnancy remains unpunished. The conditions for this are that the abortion must be performed by a doctor and after previous counseling.
What was initially seen for many as a step in the right direction in terms of women’s self-determination is still controversial today. Although abortion is now possible, it is still punishable by law. Particularly the debate about paragraph 219a, which criminalizes the advertising of abortions, attracted a lot of attention since 2017 after a court ruling against a doctor who stated on her website that she performed this medical procedure. Since a change in the law in 2019, it is now allowed to inform that this procedure can be performed in principle, but further information such as the type of abortions performed is still prohibited. At the heart of the debate is how easy access to abortion should be. Critics accuse the article of making this more difficult, thereby restricting the right to bodily self-determination. Proponents of the ban on advertising cite the protection of life as the top priority for retaining the article. Currently, several lawsuits against Article 219a are before the Federal Constitutional Court.
But this situation is not only evident in Germany, but also internationally: the abortion ban recently passed in Poland drew a wave of protests. In the U.S., conservative-ruled states are making access to abortion more and more difficult through increasingly restrictive laws. Here in Germany, too, many people are still protesting against the ban on abortions and for more self-determination for women over their own bodies.