BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany’s new government plans to do away with a Nazi-era law that forbids doctors from providing information about abortions and that has long been criticized for creating hurdles for women seeking to make informed decisions.
“Doctors should be allowed to provide public information about abortions without fear of prosecution,” the Social Democrats, the Greens and the Free Democrats said in their agreement to form a coalition government on Wednesday.
Technically, abortion is illegal altogether in Germany. However, it is allowed under certain circumstances and the procedure must be performed within 12 weeks of conception.
However, critics including the Greens have said that it is too difficult for women to access information about which procedures are available and who provides them.
Until recently, doctors were not allowed to state publicly that they perform abortions. That law was amended in 2019 in a compromise that meant doctors could say they offered termination of pregnancies but were not allowed to provide any further information on such procedures.
The new government’s coalition agreement said it plans to eliminate the law, introduced in 1933, as part of efforts to strengthen women’s rights to self-determination.
“The option to terminate a pregnancy at no cost is part of a reliable health care system,” the agreement said.
The move comes amid heavy protests in Poland, which borders Germany, against strict abortion laws and as U.S. abortion rights are under attack.
Reporting by Maria Sheahan; Editing by Giles Elgood