The ban on abortion information
If you need an abortion in Germany, you won’t find any information on your doctor’s website, said Margarete Stokowski. Activists campaigned for months to overturn the law that bans all “advertising” of abortion services—which effectively prohibits doctors from releasing any information at all about the procedure. And after a long parliamentary debate on women’s rights and self-determination, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet last week offered a miserly compromise. Under the proposal, doctors and hospitals will be able to add the word “abortion” to the list of services they provide. But they will not be allowed to give any more information than that—not how long the procedure will last, for example, or what to expect in recovery. The legislature will now vote on the measure. It is yet another reflection of the hypocrisy surrounding abortion in Germany. Terminating a pregnancy here is technically still “a criminal offense,” but it is tacitly allowed in the first trimester if the patient gets mandatory counseling. Yet the number of clinics that provide abortions has been steadily falling across the country, and German medical schools teach the procedure only perfunctorily or not at all. In some areas, women have to travel 100 miles to reach a provider and then brave a gaggle of protesters. At this rate, we’ll soon be as restrictive as the U.S.