Abortion in Germany: While the US is going backwards, Germany repeals Criminal Code §219a StGB which prohibited advertisements and information about abortion

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On Friday, June 24, 2022, the Bundestag approved the deletion of the so-called advertising ban for abortions in the Criminal Code (219a StGB) with the votes of the SPD, Bündnis 90/Die Grünen, FDP and Left Party. German doctors will be able to provide detailed information about the possibilities of terminating a pregnancy without having to reckon with criminal prosecution. 

Abortion in Germany: “§ 219a will be repealed.” The German coalition government has kept its word and implemented the deletion of paragraph 219a of the Criminal Code as quickly as possible. This means legal certainty for doctors and more information rights for those affected In addition, criminal court judgments based on Section 219a of the Criminal Code (advertising for the termination of pregnancy) will be lifted and proceedings will be discontinued inform about the implementation of an abortion.

Abortion in Germany

Abortion in Germany: Germany ends the criminalization of abortion doctors

Federal Family Minister Lisa Paus (Bündnis 90/Die Grünen) spoke of a great day for doctors and women. She thinks of the many women who have suffered from the consequences of the paragraph for decades because they could not get access to important information. 

Women have a right to medical information on how to end an unwanted pregnancy. Unintentionally pregnant women sought advice, doctors wanted to provide information about methods, risks and possible complications. Paus complained that Paragraph 219a had inhumanly sanctioned and punished a deeply human event.

▶︎ Criminal Code §219a StGB paragraph prevented good advice and care for the women concerned, and this is now being put an end to. With the abolition of Paragraph 219a, decades of criminalization and stigmatization of doctors also ended. 

▶︎ Could the Criminal Code §219a StGB also be reformed? They could explain in the future how they thought it was necessary. At the same time, Paus called for a debate on abortion paragraph 218 of the Criminal Code. The federal government wants to set up a commission for this purpose. She advocated making abortion a subject in medical studies.

Abortion in Germany

Abortion rules in Germany

According to the counseling regulation (§ 218a Abs. 1StGB and §§ 5 ff. Pregnancy Conflict Act), the termination of pregnancy remains unpunished under the following conditions:

  • The pregnant woman must request an abortion.
  • She must have received the legally prescribed pregnancy conflict counseling from a state-approved counseling center and received the counseling certificate from there.
  • There must be at least three days between the issuance of the consultation slip and the intervention. 
  • No more than twelve weeks must have passed since conception (fertilization). This corresponds to the 14th week of pregnancy if the calculation is not based on the day of conception but on the first day of the last menstrual period.
  • The termination of pregnancy must be performed by a doctor. 
  • The doctor who performs the termination must not have carried out the pregnancy conflict counseling.

Due to the corona pandemic, counseling centers may only be able to work to a limited extent. If a conversation in the counseling center is not possible, pregnancy conflict counseling is offered via digital media or by telephone. As an exception, the counseling slip will then be sent to you by post, for example, or you can pick it up in person. Inquire in advance by telephone or e-mail at advice centers in your area about the regulations and protective measures on site. This is particularly important if you have symptoms of a corona infection, are in domestic isolation because of COVID-19 or are in quarantine as a contact person.

Due to the corona pandemic, it is also possible that there will be bottlenecks in making appointments in individual clinics and medical practices that generally offer abortions. In this list, which is updated monthly , you can search for other doctors, clinics and facilities that perform abortions.

abortion in Germany

Abortion in Germany: cases where abortion is not procecuted

Through criminal code § 218a Abs.3 StGB, the German legislature enables the termination of pregnancy if, according to a medical assessment, there are urgent reasons for the pregnancy to be caused by rape or sexual abuse. 

▶︎ For all girls who become pregnant before the age of 14, there is always a criminological indication. In the case of a criminological indication, there is no obligation to provide counseling, but there is a right to counseling if the pregnant woman so desires.

▶︎ No more than twelve weeks (14 weeks after the first day of the last menstrual period) must have elapsed since conception. The termination of pregnancy may not be performed by the doctor who issued the indication.

Further impunity for pregnant women

The pregnant women in Germany will not be criminalized if the abortion is carried out by a doctor after consultation with a recognized pregnancy conflict advice center and no more than 22 weeks have elapsed since conception. 

▶︎ In this case, the pregnant woman remains unpunished, but other parties involved may be liable to prosecution (unpunishment of the pregnant woman under Section 218a Paragraph 4 Sentence 1 of the Criminal Code)


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Michelle Halterman
Michelle Halterman
USA, China, South Africa and now Munich - Michelle has come a long way in the world. She is an outdoor person and loves to be in nature with friends and on her mountain bike. Or she meets up with friends for pasta, vino, cappaccino & Co.

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