GERMANY – New coalition government publishes far-reaching SRHR and abortion commitments

Yesterday the three parties which will jointly govern Germany in the next four years (Social Democrats, Greens and Liberals) published their coalition agreement covering those four years. It includes a detailed passage on “reproductive self-determination”, and particularly on abortion, with the most important aim being examine taking abortion out of the criminal law (Section 218).

“We will strengthen women’s right to self-determination. We will ensure access to care. Abortions will become part of medical education and training. The possibility of abortion free of charge is a part of reliable health care. We will counteract so-called curbstone harassment [of those seeking abortion advice or care] by anti-abortion opponents with effective legal measures. We will ensure the availability of advice nationwide [i.e. pregnancy counselling centres]. Pregnancy conflict counselling online will continue to be possible in the future [i.e. beyond the Covid-19 pandemic].  

“Doctors should be able to provide information to the public about abortion without having to fear prosecution. We will therefore delete Section 219a of the Criminal Code [which forbids advertising abortion services]. We will set up a commission on reproductive self-determination and reproductive medicine, which will examine regulations for abortion outside the criminal code….“ 

The treaty also commits the new government to a range of other measures pertaining to reproductive health and self-determination: covering the cost of contraception for low-wage earners and the possibility of health insurance to reimburse costs contraceptives as a statutory benefit; research funding for contraceptives; partial cost coverage by the federal government for artificial insemination regardless of medical indication, marital status or gender identity; cost coverage for pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (within the narrow bounds permitted in German law) and clarification of the regulation of embryo donation and elective single embryo transfer. The commission which will examine regulations on taking abortion out of the criminal law will also look at possibilities for legalising egg donation and altruistic surrogate motherhood.

Another focus of the new government will be maternal health care; among other things, it will introduce planning guidelines to ensure one-to-one care by a midwife during labour. Furthermore, the new government plans to tackle discrimination and access barriers in the health care system; promote attention to gender-related differences in health care, prevention and research; integrate gender medicine in the training of the health professions and strengthen women’s representation in decision-making bodies within the associations of doctors working in the statutory health insurance system and within health insurances.

SOURCES: (Social Democrats, Greens and Liberals). Translation by Stephanie Schlitt, Profamilia Bundesverband, Germany, 25 November 2021.