Doctor faces up to two years' jail for 'advertising' abortion on her website
This week a doctor will face court in Gießen on Friday for "advertising abortion," which is illegal under German law, after putting information about the procedure up on her website.
61-year-old Doctor Kristina Hänel could be in a whole lot of trouble because she offered information on her internet site about the abortions she performs.
The "advertisement" in question was on her website in April 2015, where Hänel listed her services, including abortion. Prospective patients were made aware in German, English or Turkish of the legal and medical aspects of the procedure.
Also in the information was a reminder that patients should bring along to the appointment either proof of health insurance or cash. And this is where she broke the law, prosecutors argue.
According to paragraph 219a of the German criminal code, it is illegal to advertise abortion services in a way that is to one's own economic advantage. The crime can be punished by a fine or up to two years' imprisonment.
Hänel was reported by Klaus Günter Annen, a member of the radical pro-life movement "Nie Wieder e.V", reports the Süddeutsche Zeitung.
The prosecutors say that, while there was nothing criminal about the information itself, Hänel should not have presented it openly on her website.
The 61-year-old, who has been carrying out abortions for more than 30 years, says that it is her duty as a doctor to inform people. "I don't do it to bring women to me. They come anyway, I don't need to," she says.
This isn't the first time Hänel's work has come under fire; she has been reported twice before for the same offence, but until now it has never lead to a court case.
Hänel has garnered substantial support for her actions, however. In the few days leading up to the court case, her petition "Right to information about abortion for women" has received over 70,000 signatures.
In Frankfurt and Gießen, the newly-founded pro-choice group "Bündnis für körperliche Selvstbestimmung", meaning "Alliance for Physical Autonomy", has also announced campaigns in support of Doctor Hänel.
Hänel says paragraph 219a of the criminal code, which calls advertising abortion anachronistic and superfluous, leads women to be disconnected from information.
"I sometimes get requests where young Muslim women write: please Dr Hänel could you help me," she says, as the women fear sanctions from their family after getting pregnant outside of marriage.
"I want these women to receive information. The right to information is a human right, it's about health education."
READ MORE: 5 things to know about abortion in Germany