Germany moves to abolish Nazi-era abortion law

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By DPA  with Euronews
Doctors and nurses in the operating room in the hospital in Prenzlau, Germany.
Doctors and nurses in the operating room in the hospital in Prenzlau, Germany.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski

Germany's government has approved new legislation that will abolish the country's Nazi-era laws on abortion.

German doctors are currently banned from providing factual information about abortions under section 219a of the country's penal code.

A well-known doctor, Kristina Hänel, was recently fined €6,000 for informing people on her website that she performed abortions.

The move by the German government paves the way for the 1933 law to be repealed if approved by lawmakers.

The proposed legislation will now be discussed by the German federal parliament (Bundestag) and Federal Council (Bundesrat).

German Justice Minister Marco Buschmann said the current laws on abortion were an "intolerable state of affairs".

But Buschmann also told ZDF television on Wednesday that the new bill would not lead to abortions being advertised "like chocolate bars or travel".

"There is no need for anyone to worry about this ...that is legally impossible," he said.

Women's Affairs Minister Anne Spiegel said the decades-old abortion law was "overdue".

"Doctors should in future be able to provide information about their medical services for abortions without having to fear prosecution or stigmatisation," Spiegel said.

"We are strengthening women's right to self-determination in the long term."

Abortions are legal in Germany as long as they are performed within the first twelve weeks of pregnancy and after obligatory counselling. Abortions are also permitted if there are specific medical reasons or if the woman was raped.