The federal government’s draft to abolish paragraph 219a, which regulates the ban on advertising for abortions, went into the first reading in the Bundestag today. The Giessen doctor Kristina Hänel expressed relief about the planned deletion.

“It means that a year-long fight for the information rights of those affected is finally coming to an end,” Hänel told the German Press Agency in Berlin on Friday. At noon, the Bundestag had a heated debate on the draft law, which should in future allow doctors like Hänel to provide more detailed information about abortions on their websites without risking criminal prosecution.

The general practitioner was first sentenced to a fine in November 2017 by the Giessen district court because, according to the court, she had provided information on abortion methodology on her website. “I consider it my professional duty to inform patients in detail about methods, risks and complications. This is the only way they can make an informed decision,” emphasized Hänel on Friday.

The traffic light coalition wants to remove paragraph 219a, which led to their conviction, from the penal code. AfD and Union want to keep the paragraph that has been controversial for years. The parliamentary group Die Linke, on the other hand, supports the motion, but also demands the deletion of paragraph 218, which criminalizes abortion. It will take a while before the parliamentary procedure is completed.

The draft of the traffic light coalition provides that with the deletion of the paragraph, the proceedings against Hänel and other convicted doctors would also be lifted. At the beginning of 2021, Hänel filed a constitutional complaint against her conviction and paragraph 219a.

“I am a convicted criminal. The penalty is paid,” said Hänel. The constitutional complaint is still in Karlsruhe. The doctor emphasized that “in hundreds of closed proceedings and in those that led to a conviction”, it was expressed that public prosecutors, police and judges themselves had doubts about the “reasonableness” of paragraph 219a.