German parliament votes to remove ban on ‘abortion advertising’

BERLIN — A majority of German lawmakers today voted to get rid of a section of the German Criminal Code that made it illegal for doctors to provide information on abortion procedures.

The move, spearheaded by the governing coalition consisting of the center-left Social Democrats (SPD), the Greens and the liberal Free Democrats (FDP) was also backed by lawmakers from the far-left party Die Linke.

It was opposed by the conservative opposition bloc of the Christian Democrats (CDU) and their Bavarian sister party CSU as well as the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD).

“Anyone can spread anything about abortion on the internet; highly qualified doctors are prohibited by criminal law from providing factual information. This is absurd and unjust,” said Justice Minister Marco Buschmann of the FDP, one of the main proponents of Friday’s decision.

Responding to criticism from the conservative parties, which voiced concerns that abortion could be trivialized, Buschmann stressed that “commercializing and trivializing advertising” is to remain prohibited, but women have a right to crucial information about ending a pregnancy.

The scrapping of the law coincided with a decision of the U.S. Supreme Court to revoke the constitutional right to an abortion as provided by the landmark Roe v. Wade decision of 1973.

The German parliament did not vote on the legal framework regulating abortion in the country: The procedure remains technically illegal, although women won’t be prosecuted if they undergo counseling and have the pregnancy terminated within 12 weeks of conception.