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German lawmakers vote to end Nazi-era ban on ‘advertising’ abortions

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By Euronews  with AP, AFP
Doctors and nurses prepare an abortion procedure in a hospital in Prenzlau, Germany.
Doctors and nurses prepare an abortion procedure in a hospital in Prenzlau, Germany.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski, File

German lawmakers have voted to repeal a Nazi-era law that banned doctors from providing information about abortions.

Under the controversial 1933 legislation, a number of medical workers had been imprisoned or fined for informing potential patients about the procedure.

But a majority of MPs in the Bundestag voted to end the ban on abortion "advertising" on Friday.

The motion received support from the ruling coalition and the Left Party but was opposed by the centre-right Christian Democrats and the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD).

Justice Minister Marco Buschmann had told lawmakers that it was high time" to abolish an "absurd" and "outdated" law.

The vote on Friday also overturned any doctors' convictions under the legislation since 1990. A well-known doctor, Kristina Hänel, was recently fined €6,000 for informing people on her website that she performed abortions.

Under a compromise deal in 2019, former Chancellor Angela Merkel had informally allowed doctors and hospitals to state online that they perform abortions, while not providing further details.

But the new coalition -- led by Olaf Scholz -- had proposed to end the ban in November.

Families Minister Lisa Paus welcomed the parliamentary decision and said it was now time to discuss the decriminalisation of abortion in Germany.

Abortions are legal in the country if carried out within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, once a woman has received mandatory counselling.

Pregnancies can also be terminated if they result from rape or if the mother's life is endangered.