Two-thirds of Germans say abortion should be no crime


Central Europe


Terminate paragraph 218, reads this placard used at a demonstration in Berlin. According to this paragraph, abortion is still a criminal offence. In the German politics, there is debate about this. Photo EPA, Hayoung Jeon

More than two-thirds of German (68 per cent) favour scrapping abortion from the Criminal Code. It seems that people voting for the Liberal FDP party are the most reserved about liberalising this.

That is the result of a survey ordered by Die Tagespost.

In Germany, there is at present a debate about whether abortion should still be considered a criminal offence. Under the new Traffic Light Coalition, there is more room for this idea than under a government with the Christian Democratic CDU/CSU.

Most of the 2003 Germans surveyed by Die Tagespost earlier in June say that termination of pregnancy should be no criminal offence.

According to the survey, only 19 per cent believe that the criminal offence regulated in Section 218 of the Criminal Code should continue to exist. Ten per cent do not know how they feel about the question, and 4 per cent want to keep the information private.


The statement that survey participants were asked to comment on is: “I support abortion remaining a criminal offence.”

The older the respondent, the more significant the proportion of people who do not support abortion is considered a criminal offence. This is 54 per cent of 18- to 29-year-olds, 75 per cent of 50- to 59-year-olds and even 83 per cent of 60- to 69-year-olds. Only the 30- to 39-year-olds are divided. Of them, 45 per cent want abortion to remain a criminal offence, and 43 per cent favour the opposite.

Catholic respondents are also overwhelmingly opposed to continuing to make abortion a criminal offence (59 per cent), while 27 per cent are in favour. The picture is even clearer among Protestants: 67 per cent do not want abortion to be considered a criminal offence, while only 18 per cent state the opposite.


The survey also breaks down the question by party affiliation. Left-wing voters are most likely to oppose abortion remaining a criminal offence (82 per cent). This is followed by supporters of the Greens with 78 per cent. Sixty-seven per cent of the supporters of the SPD and AfD disagree with the thesis; from the CDU/CSU it is 62 per cent.

The proportion of those who want abortion to remain a criminal offence is highest among FDP voters (36 per cent). However, even among them, an absolute majority of 55 per cent is against it.

The same issue as in Germany is debated in The Netherlands. The director of the Dutch NPV Zorg, Diederik van Dijk, prefers abortion to remain in the Criminal Code, he writes in a blog in English.

“Imagine someone sneaking abortion pills into their girlfriend’s spaghetti, as a man did in 2008. The judge sentenced him to twelve months in prison and based the penalty primarily on article 296 of Dutch criminal law.”

For Van Dijk, it is clear that this article “does not criminalise women in the slightest, contrary to what many abortion activists and politicians claim. Quite the contrary: it protects them.”

He thinks the debate is not only there for the symbolism. It has to do with the “dream of abortion not only being legal but also a human right”, an opinion that is very strong in the European Parliament. But such an article in the human rights treaties would be impossible if important EU countries would still have abortion in the Criminal Code.

Removing this would “shape our society into one that less and less values the earliest stages of human life”, Van Dijk concludes.



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