Berlin tightens rules on late-term abortions

DPA/The Local
DPA/The Local - [email protected] • 14 May, 2009 Updated Thu 14 May 2009 12:01 CEST
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After years of debate, the German parliament voted late on Wednesday to require women seeking late-term abortions to delay the procedure by three days and have an official consultation with a doctor.

The government initiative, which will fine doctors €5,000 if they forgo the mandatory consultation, was crafted by the conservative Christian Democrats and centre-left Social Democrats in Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition.

The previous legislation regulating abortions allowed a woman to terminate a pregnancy within the first 12 weeks if she consultated with a doctor three days before the procedure. But late-term abortions, allowed only in cases of physical or mental danger to the mother, did not require the same consultation until Wednesday’s vote. Such danger also includes cases where the child would likely be stillborn or with severe disabilities.

This law, paragraph 218 in the German constitution, does not change after Wednesday’s vote. But parliamentary critics claim the vote threatens to shake what they had considered to be a “good compromise” until now.

SPD politician Christel Humme warned there must be exceptions to the three-day waiting period, particularly for women who may have already given birth to disabled children. Consultations should also take place much earlier in the pregnancy, she said, adding that fining doctors was inappropriate.

Meanwhile socialist Left party members said the new law only erects new hurdles to obtaining an abortion.

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