Protestant Church of Germany receives strong critique because of abortion stance


Central Europe


A protester displays a placard reading: "We love life" (L) as another one displays a crucifix during the annual anti-abortion "March for Life" demonstration in Berlin. The Roman Catholic Church in Germany is much more outspoken pro-life than the Protestant Church of Germany. Photo AFP, John MacDougall

Last week, the Protestant Church of Germany said to see room for partial decriminalisation of abortion. Not everyone agrees with this development.

Roman Catholic Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer expressed his regret over the position of his Protestant fellow Christians, Katholisch.de writes. In a comment on Idea, he stated that "as Christians, we would be challenged to present the message of man's image of God in all its facets to the secular majority in our country and thus to be advocates together for humanity and for life ordained by God."

According to the Bishop, the view of the EKD on abortion means that the wedge between the Roman Catholic Church and the Protestant Church of Germany has become larger.

The statement of the EKD comes after a request by a government commission of 18 experts from diverse professional fields that examines the regulation of abortion outside of the Criminal Law. Currently, abortion is prohibited by the penal code but tolerated under certain circumstances in Germany.

Bishop Voderholzer is known for his pro-life view. Since 2015, he has participated in every March for Life, Katholisch.de writes.


Pro-life organisations are also not very pleased with the changed view of the EKD on abortion, PRO writes. The Bundesverband Lebensrecht (BVL) (Federal Association for the Right to Life) calls the statement of the Church "sobering". It also wonders "by what other means the right to life and human dignity of these people can be asserted."

The president of the organisation, Alexandra Linder, calls the proposal of the EKD to weigh the right to life of the unborn child heavier as it becomes older "dangerous." She points out that "a duty to protect must be greatest when the person is most at risk, and in this case, that would not be the time shortly before birth, but the time shortly after conception." In addition, she believes that this way of reasoning "implies that there could be a continuous decline in the right to life in relation to other groups of people, for example, suicidal, dying, terminally ill or comatose people."


Frank Heinrich, representative of the Evangelical Alliance in Germany, finds it understandable that many Christians worry about the erosion of the protection of unborn life, he tells PRO. He criticises the knowledge gap of the German population. "Most people assume that abortions are completely legal and don't even know that we have a ban on abortion in criminal law and why it is there."

At the same time, he finds it positive that the churches are consulted during the consideration of new regulations on abortion in Germany.

Paradigm shift

Christian Democrat Thomas Rachel, who is also the federal chairman of the Protestant Working Group of the CDU, calls the new position of the EKD on abortion a "paradigm shift." He added that it causes him great concern, Idea reports. According to Rachel, the current abortion legislation in Germany has a good balance between "the right to life of unborn children and the woman's right to self-determination." Therefore, he argues that this "double advocacy should not be eliminated without necessity through partial decriminalisation."

The Christian Human Rights organisation ADF International is also against the abortion stance of the EKD. Felix Böllmann, the president of the European legal department of the organisation, says that "Christians in particular should have maximum clarity about the universal meaning and value of human life." Therefore, he asserts that "any relativisation of this principle must be rejected with all determination."



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