German judge allows prayer around abortion clinics


Central Europe


Vigil in Pforzheim. Photo Facebook, 40 Tage für das Leben

German pro-life groups may continue their prayer next to abortion clinics. A court has ruled that this practice is legal.

Pro-life organisations are free to organise prayer vigils where, when and how they want. That is the content of the verdict of the Sixth Senate of the Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig last week, Die Tagespost reports. With that, the judges confirmed the earlier ruling of the Administrative Court of Baden-Württemberg.

The last verdict is a new development in a case that has been running since 2019. That year, the German city of Pforzheim banned prayer vigils within view of a pregnancy counselling centre. Pro Familia provided pregnant women with certificates that enabled them to have an abortion.

The pro-life “40 Days for Life” group protested with vigils at the clinic for 40 days twice a year. According to the city, pregnant women who came to the clinic were in an exceptional psychological situation and had to endure a “gauntlet run”, PRO reports. Therefore, they ordered the pro-life group to quit their vigils.

However, last year, the Baden-Württemberg Administrative Court ruled that they were allowed to pray in front of the clinic and that the ban by the city council was illegal. Now, the Federal Administrative Court, to which the city of Pforzheim appealed, came to the same conclusion. The judge ruled that freedom of assembly can only be restricted if there is a risk to public safety. That is not the case with vigils, the court ruled. The judges do not allow an appeal of their verdict.


Pavica Vojnović, leader of the 40 Days for Life prayer group in Pforzheim, says to be relieved. “Our prayers really help, as affected women have told us time and time again. I am grateful that we can continue our prayer vigils”, she says to Die Tagespost. Vojnović was the one who started the court case in protest against the vigil ban.

ADF International, which supported the pro-life group in their legal struggles, says it welcomes the verdict. “The court in Leipzig has once again made clear that peaceful prayer vigils cannot be banned. In view of the clear findings of the court, the federal government would be well advised to abandon its plans to restrict fundamental rights in the vicinity of abortion organisations massively,” stated Dr Felix Böllmann, Director of European advocacy for ADF International, in a press release.

According to Idea, the ruling also calls into question the plans of the federal government to establish “censorship zones” around abortion clinics.



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