On Friday, the Bundestag discussed the abolition of the advertising ban for abortions in the first reading. “We want a woman to be able to make more informed decisions if she wants to. And that should be a matter of course in an enlightened society,” said Federal Minister of Justice Marco Buschmann (FDP) on Friday. The reality of life is that there are many difficult questions when it comes to having an abortion. There is usually a great need for orientation and information.
“And in our digital reality, in many cases this need leads to the internet. Because there is a perceived anonymity and privacy there,” says Buschmann. “On the internet we allow every conspiracy theorist, every fake news slinger to spread any nonsense about abortion. But qualified doctors – we forbid them to provide factual information. That is absurd and injustice.” That is why it is right to abolish paragraph 219a.
A rehabilitation solution was also included in the draft law for doctors who had previously been convicted as part of the advertising ban. “We don’t want to force the convicted doctors to accept pardon from the Federal President,” said Buschmann.
According to the Federal Minister, the abolition of the advertising ban has no effect on other laws on abortion, despite all the claims. “Again and again it is falsely claimed that the decision we are making today about 219a is disrespectful or even undermining the concept of protecting life under paragraph 218,” said the Minister of Justice. “218 and 219a have nothing to do with each other.” In addition, there is no risk of repulsive or misleading advertising, because the strict rules of the Medicines Advertising Act would also apply here.
Family Minister Lisa Paus (Greens) also welcomed the planned abolition of the advertising ban. “The deletion of paragraph 219a is long overdue,” said the Green politician. “The so-called advertising ban undermines women’s right to bodily self-determination and their right to obtain information about abortions.” It is simply cynical that doctors have to fear prosecution for this.
During the debate, the SPD member of the Bundestag, Carmen Wegge, reiterated that the abolition was a beautiful moment that “doctors fought for” and that “give women back sovereignty over their bodies”. “We women will finally have access to all the information we need,” says Wegge. “Finally doctors can tell me – and not just any YouTube star.”
For the CDU, on the other hand, there are still doubts that the abolition of paragraph 219a would have no effect on paragraph 218. Buschmann’s statement that the abolition of the advertising ban was a “liberation for women” was insensitive, said Nina Warken (CDU). According to the CDU members of the Bundestag, there is no need for additional advertising. “The planned removal of 219a allows for much more social media promotion, advertisements and billboards. They are not lurid, but actively address the target group.”
The draft law of the traffic light coalition provides for the repeal of paragraph 219a in the penal code. This paragraph prohibits the advertising of abortions for economic reasons and in a “grossly offensive manner”. In the past, the regulation has led to condemnations of doctors who advertised on their website that they perform abortions and described their methods. The aim of the traffic light coalition of the SPD, FDP and Greens is that women who do not want to become pregnant can find out more about abortion in the future.
If the new regulation to abolish the advertising ban comes into force, the controversial paragraph 219a will be history. Abortion remains anchored in the penal code in this country. Because the traffic light is undecided on the other controversial paragraph 218. This criminalizes abortion as a matter of principle. Under certain conditions, however, an abortion remains unpunished. It is still unclear whether the regulation will remain in place. The coalition agreement states that a commission should examine “regulations for abortion outside of the penal code”.
Currently, an abortion is only exempt from punishment if the woman wants it herself and has previously obtained advice from a state-recognized body. It must be performed by a doctor who was not involved in the counseling and must take place within the first 12 weeks of conception.
Exceptions also apply if the health of the pregnant woman is threatened and after a rape. In the case of an abortion within 22 weeks after conception after prior counseling, the pregnant woman is not liable to prosecution, but other parties involved, such as the doctor, are.
Federal Family Minister Lisa Paus (Greens) had already announced in the run-up to the Bundestag debate that the legalization of abortions would be examined. “I’m sure no woman breaks off a pregnancy lightly,” said the Green politician to the newspapers of the Essen Funke media group. Women who perform abortions should not be stigmatized. “As the federal government, we therefore want to set up a commission that will examine, among other things, the possibility of regulating abortions outside of the penal code,” explained Paus.
“But we want to achieve even more: All topics relating to contraception and pregnancy must finally be accepted as health services,” emphasized the Minister for Family Affairs. The federal government is also working internationally to promote self-determined family planning. Being able to develop freely and without coercion in sexuality and family planning is an important human right, emphasized Paus. “This also includes being able to freely decide if, when and with whom you want to have children,” she said.