The legal text of paragraph 219a of the penal code © Harald Oppitz (KNA)
For several weeks, there has been a debate about paragraph 219a, which prohibits advertising for abortion. But the political fronts are no longer as clear-cut as they first appeared to be.
Abolish, reform or simply maintain? Just a few weeks ago, the answer seemed clear: After a female doctor had been sentenced in Giessen last November because she also indicated performing abortions as a service on her homepage, a protest against the court decision was organized in a short time: Not only women's rights activists demonstrated for the abolition of paragraph 219a, according to which the doctor had been sentenced and which provides for a ban on advertising abortions.
The parties also positioned themselves: Initially, it was members of the Greens and the Left who wanted to support the doctor and suddenly saw the chance to completely delete what they considered to be the outdated paragraph 219a. It is "simply wrong and has to go," said Renate Kunast, a member of the Green Party. The SPD also spoke out in favor of deletion. Opponents of this position – especially from the ranks of the CDU/CSU – warn that the laboriously achieved compromise on the abortion ie should not be called into question again. And with it, Section 218, which states that abortion is illegal but remains exempt from punishment under certain conditions.
"Old fault lines"
The Catholic Church also argues that the concept of protection should not be shaken and that "an important pillar should be removed" by deleting Paragraph 219a, as Katharina Jestaedt, deputy director of the Catholic Office, puts it. It sees the danger that with an omission "old distortions" revive and an abortion becomes more and more a "normal" service of the physician.
After the first reading of three bills in the Bundestag last week, it could now come down to a compromise: Although the Greens and the Left advocate deletion in their drafts, the FDP, on the other hand, is making the case for banning advertising only if it is "done in a grossly offensive manner". And the SPD, which also wanted to introduce a bill, withdrew it because it hopes – also in view of a possible grand coalition – for an agreement with the CDU/CSU. SPD member of parliament Eva Hogl spoke of "a sensitive and difficult ie".
She campaigned for a cross-faction initiative, in which the factional constraint would then be lifted. In contrast, the civil society fronts are rigid: Here, the representatives of an alliance for sexual self-determination and the pro-life activists are implacably opposed to each other. While the alliance is calling for the deletion under the hashtag #wegmit219 and supporters like to present themselves with tape in front of their mouths, the pro-lifers are against a change and are scouring the Internet for addresses of doctors who offer abortion on their homepage.