Abortion in Germany


Abortion in Germany

Abortion in Germany is technically permitted in the first trimester upon condition of counseling and a waiting period, and in rare exceptional cases afterwards.

History

Legalization of abortion was first widely discussed in Germany during the early 20th century. During the Weimar Republic, this discussion led to a reduction in the maximum penalty for abortion, and in 1927 to the legalization - by court decision - of abortion in cases of grave danger to the life of the mother.

In Nazi Germany, the penalties for abortion were increased again. From 1943, abortion was threatened with the death penalty. [http://www.lifeissues.net/writers/air/air_vol16no1_2001.html] On the other hand, abortion was at times forced upon members of parts of society that were considered undesirable.

After World War II, abortion remained broadly illegal in both East Germany and West Germany, with West Germany retaining the legal situation of 1927 while East Germany passed a slightly more encompassing set of exceptions in 1950. The legal requirements in the West were extremely strict, and often led women to seek abortions elsewhere, particularly in the Netherlands.

East Germany legalized abortion on demand up to 12 weeks of pregnancy in 1972 in the Volkskammer's only-ever non-unanimous vote before 1989. After West Germany followed suit in 1974, the new law was struck down by the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany as inconsistent with the human rights guarantees of the constitution. It held that the unborn have a right to life, that abortion is an act of killing, and that the fetus deserves legal protection throughout its development. Nevertheless, it strongly hinted that increasing the number of situations in which abortion was legal might be constitutional.

As a result, in 1976, West Germany legalized abortion up to 12 weeks of pregnancy for reasons of medical necessity, sexual crimes or serious social or emotional distress, if approved by two doctors, and subject to counseling and a three-day waiting period. In 1989, a Bavarian doctor was sentenced to two and a half years in prison and 137 of his patients were fined for failing to meet the certification requirements.

The two laws had to be reconciled after reunification. A new law was passed by the Bundestag in 1992, permitting first-trimester abortions on demand, subject to counselling and a three-day waiting period. The law was quickly challenged in court by a number of individuals - including Chancellor Helmut Kohl - and the State of Bavaria. The Federal Constitutional Court issued a decision a year later maintaining its earlier decision that the constitution protected the fetus from the moment of conception, but stated that it is within the discretion of parliament not to punish abortion in the first trimester, providing that the woman had submitted to state-regulated counselling designed to discourage termination and protect unborn life.Parliament passed such a law in 1995. [http://annualreview.law.harvard.edu/population/abortion/GERMANY.abo.htm] Abortions are not covered by public health insurance except for women with low income.

ee also

*Abortion
*
*Abortion debate
*Abortion law
*German Federal Constitutional Court abortion decision
*Religion and abortion


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