Germany Abolishes Nazi-Era Law Regarding Abortion


German lawmakers voted Friday to end the country’s Nazi-era law regarding a ban on advertising abortions, which has in the past led to doctors being prosecuted for providing information about the procedure to potential patients.

Government parties and the Left party voted to lift the restriction, while the center-right Christian Democrats and the far-right Alternative for Germany voted against.

Parliament also voted to annul the convictions of doctors since Oct. 3, 1990, when West Germany’s abortion laws were applied to the whole country upon reunification. Under Germany’s criminal code, doctors risked a fine or prison sentence of up to two years if convicted of advertising abortions.

Under a compromise deal in 2019, former Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government left the ban formally in place but allowed doctors and hospitals for the first time to say on their websites that they perform abortions. They were not, however, allowed to give more detailed information.

Families Minister Lisa Paus welcomed the parliamentary decision and said it was now time to discuss ending the ongoing criminalization of abortion.

In general abortions are a crime in Germany, but they are not punished if carried out within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Women seeking an abortion must undergo counseling three days before the procedure.

Abortions for health reasons or because the pregnancy resulted from rape are legal.