German bishops oppose abortion legalisation


Central Europe


A protester displays a placard reading: "No death by prescription" during the annual anti-abortion "March for Life" demonstration in Berlin. Photo AFP, John Macdougall

German Catholic bishops are convinced that unborn life should be safeguarded through criminal law. Evangelicals do not entirely agree.

Just in time, the Catholic Bishops' Conference published their opinion on the proposal to remove abortion from the penal code. The Catholics oppose it. According to them, the argument of proponents, who argue that unwanted pregnant women are stigmatised, is incorrect.

The bishops shared the document on Monday evening, only a few days before a government committee will look into the matter in a first session on Thursday. The German federal government wants to explore the possibility of decriminalising abortion. The bishops, however, argue that regulation outside the criminal law would not adequately guarantee the protection of the unborn life required by the constitution. This reports Domradio.


Earlier, the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) published a statement as well. In October, the Protestants stated that they could imagine a regulation outside of the criminal law under certain conditions. They see a possibility of a gradual deadline regulation, according to which abortions up to the 22nd week could be regulated with mandatory advice outside of criminal law. The extrauterine viability of the fetus would then begin in the 22nd week.

However, the Catholic bishops oppose such a gradual concept. According to them, such a concept fails to recognise "that unborn life needs to be protected just like born life." At the same time, the bishops argue, "there is a risk of downgrading and weakening the protection of human life in other life situations - for example, in embryo and stem cell research."

In Germany, abortion is illegal but not punishable during the first 12 weeks of counselling. In some circumstances, this term can be prolonged to 22 weeks. A pregnant woman must attend a counselling session.


Subscribe for an update, and receive a documentary and e-book for free.

Choose your subscriptions*

You may subscribe to multiple lists.