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Liberalization approaches based on reproductive self-determination and their possible consequences

by Florian M. Dienerowitz

Impulses in the discussion on § 218 StGB

Self-determination as a fundamental premise for any changes to the criminal prohibition of abortion must be thoroughly examined, taking various aspects into account: These include, for example, the suitability for reality of a required self-determined decision against the background of the causes of pregnancy conflict and abortion. The question of the compatibility of a self-determined decision with any rights of the unborn child must also be discussed again.

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The current regulations on abortion are a fundamental ban on abortion under criminal law (Section 218 StGB). However, after state-approved counseling, an abortion can be performed within the first twelve weeks of pregnancy and after a reflection period of three days without penalty. Abortions for medical and criminological indications are not illegal (Section 218a StGB).

After an intensive socio-political struggle and a groundbreaking ruling by the Federal Constitutional Court on May 28, 1993, the current regulations have been in force since 1995. For many years, these were regarded as an inviolable compromise between the protection of life and a woman's self-determined decision.

The basis of the recent reform movement, which is also reflected in other European countries, is the self-determination of women and the so-called "reproductive rights" derived from this. In some cases, abortion is seen as a human right that should be included in the European Union's Charter of Fundamental Rights, among other things
In the course of the reform debate, the current regulations must be examined in terms of their original objectives and their success or failure. In particular, the underlying premise of the counseling rule "help instead of punishment" must be critically examined with regard to its implementation, its effect and its further development.

Read the full Monitor: Liberalization approaches based on reproductive self-determination and their possible consequences" here as a PDF.

Please note, to date the paper is only available in German.

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Dr. Andreas Jacobs


Head of Department Social Cohesion +49 (0)30 26996 3744


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