Catholic Youth Organizations Urge End to Germany’s Ban on Abortion Ads

Currently, women in Germany can procure an abortion by a doctor during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, following a compulsory counselling session.

A pregnant woman kneels in a garden.
A pregnant woman kneels in a garden. (photo: iravgustin / Shutterstock)

The Federation of German Catholic Youth (BDKJ), an umbrella organization of Catholic children's and youth associations, has spoken in favor of abolishing the ban on advertising for abortions in Germany.

The Federal Cabinet of Germany has passed a draft law to lift Section 219a of the German Criminal Code, which bans advertising abortions.

“The best protection for unborn life is when pregnant people have the opportunity to inform themselves safely,” said BDKJ Federal President Daniela Hottenbacher, according to a report by CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German language news partner. “This is the only way to take real responsibility.”

The BDKJ also criticized the fact that abortions are not fully accessible throughout Germany. “In some areas of Germany, abortions are no longer accessible,” Hottenbacher said. “This puts pregnant women under additional time pressure, making it difficult to decide for or against an abortion.”

The section of the German Criminal Code that prohibits advertising for abortions “reflects an image of women that we firmly reject,” the committee representative also asserted.

Currently, women in Germany can procure an abortion by a doctor during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, following a compulsory counseling session. 

A German bishop who has previously been outspoken on the matter was approached by CNA Deutsch but declined to comment.

Following the German federal government’s decision in March, the German bishops‘ conference published a statement expressing cautious criticism of the government’s plans to lift the ban on abortion advertising, CNA Deutsch reported.

“In principle, it is to be welcomed that the federal government does not want to abolish the advertising ban without replacement - as originally proposed - but definitely sees a need for regulation for a specific ban on advertising for abortions,” it said in a statement released at the end of the bishops' plenary assembly.

The bishops said they would examine the federal government's proposal in more detail. "We remain concerned that the level of protection will be lowered too much at the expense of the protection of life required by the Basic Law."

“A pregnant woman in a conflict situation is dependent on serious, reliable and neutral information,” Bishop Georg Bätzing of Limburg, serving chairman of the German Bishops‘ Conference, wrote. “In addition, in view of the required protection of life - according to the Federal Constitutional Court - an abortion must not appear as an everyday procedure ’corresponding to normality. The bill now presented must also be measured against this.”

Caravaggio, “The Incredulity of St. Thomas,” c. 1601

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