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German lawmakers vote to end abortion ‘advertising’ ban

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BERLIN — German lawmakers voted on Friday to end the country’s ban on advertising abortions, which has in the past led to lawsuits against doctors for providing information about the procedure to potential patients .

Government parties and the left-wing party voted in favor of lifting the restriction, while the centre-right Christian Democrats and the far-right Alternative for Germany voted against.

Parliament has also voted to overturn doctors’ convictions since October 3, 1990, when West Germany’s abortion laws were applied nationwide upon reunification. Under Germany’s penal code, doctors risked a fine or jail time of up to two years if found guilty of advertising abortions.

As part of a compromise deal in 2019, former Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government officially upheld the ban, but for the first time allowed doctors and hospitals to say on their websites that they practice abortions. However, they were not allowed to give more detailed information.

Family Minister Lisa Paus welcomed the parliamentary decision and said now was the time to discuss ending the criminalization of abortion.

In general, abortions are a crime in Germany, but they are not punished if performed within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Women wishing to have an abortion must receive advice three days before the operation.

Abortions for health reasons or because the pregnancy resulted from rape are legal.

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