Anti-abortionists should demonstrate where they want, German court rules


Central Europe


A prayer group during an earlier prayer vigil. photo ADF International

A German court ruled that the city of Frankfurt unlawfully restricted anti-abortionists' freedoms.

When in 2020, anti-abortion demonstrators wanted to hold a vigil in front of a Pro Familia centre, an organization that advises women considering an abortion, the city of Frankfurt ordered them to demonstrate outside the range of sight of the advice centre. That is unlawful, according to a judicial verdict handed down on Thursday, December 16th.

As the administrative court stated, the vigils are protected by the fundamental right of freedom of assembly. Therefore, the participants should determine the place, time, and content of the meeting themselves. The restrictions imposed by the city of Frankfurt intervene in this right, writes the Christian German news agency IDEA.

The lawyer for the life rights activists, Tomislav Cunovic, welcomed the verdict. “With their order, the city of Frankfurt has turned a mosquito into an elephant”, Cunovic told IDEA. According to the lawyer, the life rights activists never spoke to pregnant women. A “gauntlet run” for the visitors of the Pro Familia advice centre, as the city of Frankfurt mentioned it, never happened. According to the court, the city of Frankfurt can appeal the decision to the Hessian Administrative Court in Kassel.

Positive example

Anti-abortionist Pavica Vojnović, leader of a 40-Days-for-Life group in Pforzheim, welcomed the decision after recently receiving permission to appeal in her case, which raises similar issues.

Dr Felix Böllmann, Senior Counsel at ADF International, a human rights organization which is supporting Vojnović’s case, stated on ADF’s website: “We welcome the court’s ruling in Frankfurt which protects the fundamental freedoms of speech, expression and assembly.” According to Böllman, “the people making an effort to protect the right to life should not have been prohibited from peacefully exercising these freedoms in the first place. We are hopeful that this ruling will set a positive example for cases such as Ms Vojnović’s.”

Silent prayer

Vojnović, the prayer group leader, had been shocked in 2019 to hear that the local municipality in Pforzheim had suddenly denied permission for their group to hold vigils near the abortion organization. Twice a year, around 20 people had gathered to pray for the women facing abortion and the lives of their unborn children. The vigils took place for 40 days – silently and peacefully. Vojnović and her group were not preventing anybody from entering the building, nor were they blocking the pavement in the surrounding area. Regardless, the municipality has banned them from praying in sight of the Pro Familia abortion advisory centre.

The prayer vigils were peaceful throughout. When monitored by the police at the request of Pro Familia, no violations of any law were found, and yet, the management of the centre requested that the vigil be moved some distance away or banned altogether.

“Every life is valuable and deserves protection. I am shocked that we are being prevented from supporting vulnerable women and their unborn children in prayer. We will continue fighting for this freedom,” said Pavica Vojnović, who, with the support of human rights organization ADF International, is continuing to seek justice in court to restore her fundamental rights to freedom of religion, assembly and speech.



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