Abortions: SPD parliamentary group on course to legalize abortion

Abortions: SPD parliamentary group on course to legalize abortion
Abortions: SPD parliamentary group on course to legalize abortion

It is a question that has been controversial for years: Should abortion no longer be punishable? From the perspective of the SPD parliamentary group, the answer is a clear yes. But not everyone shares this view.

The SPD parliamentary group in the Bundestag is committed to abolishing the criminalization of abortion. The MPs approved a corresponding position paper at their parliamentary group meeting. It states that, from the SPD’s point of view, abortion should no longer be punishable in the future. Nevertheless, there should continue to be “clear legal requirements” for this, according to the paper, which was made available to the dpa. The Greens support the initiative, but there is strong criticism from the Union.

According to Paragraph 218 of the Criminal Code, abortions are currently illegal. In fact, however, an abortion in the first twelve weeks of pregnancy is not punishable if the woman seeks counseling beforehand. An abortion is also not punishable if there are medical reasons or if it is carried out because of rape. The abolition of the paragraph has been debated for years. Most recently, a commission set up by the federal government recommended decriminalizing abortions in the first weeks of pregnancy.

SPD proposal: Legalization until a certain deadline

“Abortions should be legalized up to a specific deadline to be determined by law,” politicians from the SPD faction are now proposing. How far beyond twelve weeks this should extend is not stated in their paper. It states: “We are in favor of a deadline that is linked to the fetus’ ability to survive outside the uterus with sufficient time in between.” As soon as there is a chance of survival outside the womb in an individual case, abortion should be prohibited in principle.

In the view of the SPD MPs, only doctors, not pregnant women, should be prosecuted for an abortion after the statutory period has expired. An additional criminal offense should be created to sanction abortions without the consent of the pregnant woman. The MPs are also campaigning for the current obligation for unwanted pregnant women to seek advice before an abortion to be abolished. The obligation to seek advice should be replaced by a legal right to advice, the paper states.

Support from the Greens

The Greens also support the initiative. “We want to strengthen women’s right of self-determination and have long been committed to a differentiated regulation of abortion outside of the penal code,” explained parliamentary group vice-chair Maria Klein-Schmeink and the Greens’ women’s policy spokeswoman Ulle Schauws. At the same time, the level of protection for the unborn child must be maintained depending on the phase of the pregnancy. The Greens are striving for legal changes during this legislative period.

Restraint in the FDP-led Ministry of Justice

It is unclear whether this will actually happen. The FDP-led Federal Ministry of Justice does not seem to have much motivation to now unravel the compromise reached on abortion. The ministry is currently carefully evaluating the commission’s report, a spokeswoman for the dpa told the German Press Agency. “This is particularly true with regard to the Federal Constitutional Court’s rulings on abortion,” she added. The commission had already presented the report in mid-April. The FDP parliamentary group’s legal policy spokeswoman, Katrin Helling-Plahr, had declared at the time that she wanted to stick to the previous regulations.

Criticism from Caritas and Union

The Caritas Association also expressed criticism of the Social Democrats’ initiative – particularly of the proposal to abolish the obligation to provide counseling in the future. “The SPD is seriously planning to suspend the obligation to provide counseling for women who are unintentionally pregnant. We are very disappointed by this,” said Caritas President Eva Maria Welskop-Deffaa. The obligation to provide counseling has “proven itself for everyone involved” because it gives those affected reliable access to all important information. For doctors, too, the counseling certificate is an important indication that the woman has chosen to have an abortion of her own free will.

The association suggests instead improving access to contraceptives and making it easier for women to reimburse the costs of abortions. Up to now, women have had to either cover the costs themselves or apply for state reimbursement. Because abortions are currently a criminal offence, health insurance companies do not cover them.

Criticism also came from the Union faction. “The obligation to provide advice is the only direct instrument of protection for the unborn child,” said the faction’s legal policy spokesman, Günter Krings. The fact that it is placed in the penal code is also important, as abortions in the first twelve weeks are already expressly exempted from this if the obligation to provide advice and wait is met. “This level of protection must not be allowed to fall any lower,” stressed Krings. Deadlines for abortion cannot be moved back and forth at will.”

Source: Stern

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