Abortion is still prohibited in Germany under Article 218. Experts now recommend legalizing abortion in early pregnancy.

Protest rally on International Women's Day: a woman holds a sign: My body, my choice

International Women's Day 2024 in Berlin: “My body, my choice” should finally become natural for women too Photo: Florian Boillot

SEDAN taz | The explosive sentences appear after 250 of more than 600 pages: After a constitutional, international and European examination, the fundamental illegality of abortion is “unsustainable”, according to the expert report available to Taz. The conclusion: “The legislature should allow abortion in the initial phase of pregnancy.”

For a year, the “Commission on Reproductive Self-Determination and Reproductive Medicine,” created by the federal government, debated two issues: first, whether abortions can be regulated outside the criminal code and to what extent. And secondly, whether and to what extent egg donation and altruistic surrogacy should be legalized.

The team of 18 scientists wants to present their evaluation next Monday. Now reported Mirror beforehand – and, therefore, prematurely placing the issue of abortion on the political agenda.

What is innovative about the report is that, for the first time in this country, the fundamental rights of pregnant women are being seriously weighed against the rights of the embryo. Being forced to continue with an early pregnancy represents an “unjustifiable interference with women's fundamental rights.” The shorter the pregnancy, the more likely abortion will be allowed.

Health insurance companies should cover the costs

Abortion should therefore be legal for the first three months, but experts do not know whether this will be regulated by broad exceptions in criminal law or whether Article 218 should be removed from the Penal Code entirely. In that case, it could be replaced by a separate reproductive rights law.

After the first three months, the Commission gives the legislator a lot of room for maneuver

After the first three months, the Commission gives the legislator a lot of room for maneuver. Only once the fetus is capable of independent viability outside the womb should abortion be “fundamentally disallowed.” Exceptions must be possible at any time, for example for medical reasons. To date, unwanted pregnant women are also required to seek counseling before having an abortion; The Commission has not decided whether this should remain the case or whether the obligation should be removed.

The commission recommends that the costs of abortions be covered by health insurance companies for at least the first three months. It also calls for free access to contraceptives and for all women to access high-quality information on both contraception and abortion.

Yes to egg donation, more careful with surrogacy

A second working group of the commission addressed the question of whether egg donation and altruistic surrogacy should be legalized in this country. Egg donation means that the eggs are fertilized outside the body and implanted again in another person. Surrogacy means that one person carries the pregnancy to another, possibly using their eggs. The Commission considers that both things are possible, although with gradations.

The ban on egg donation, in force since 1990, is “obsolete and no longer convincing.” Under certain conditions, the process is constitutionally and ethically justifiable: in addition to information and voluntary consent of the donor, it also includes a donor registry analogous to the sperm donor registry. This is intended to protect the child's right to know his or her own ancestry. To retrieve the eggs, medical procedures would have to be used that keep the burden on the donor as low as possible. Furthermore, compensation must be “adequate” to the physical and psychological effort of the donor. What that means in concrete terms is still unclear.

When it comes to the issue of surrogacy, the commission is more cautious. As long as both the protection of the surrogate mother and the well-being of the child are ensured, this could be allowed in some cases. However, carrying a pregnancy to term for another person carries the potential for abuse “even in altruistic models,” the report says. Therefore, it is at the discretion of the legislator to maintain the current ban on surrogacy.

In case of legalization, the commission formulates conditions: a surrogate mother must have given birth to at least one child. All medical procedures should cause you as little stress as possible. In terms of parental rights, it must be possible to clearly assign the child to the intended parents, but at the same time the person carrying the child must have the right to decide, within a “short period of time” after the birth, become the legal mother of the child. Also in this case “adequate compensation” and the child's right to her own offspring must be guaranteed.

The federal government keeps a low profile

There was no comment on Tuesday from the ministries of health, women and justice involved. All referred to the presentation of the commission's results on Monday. The Greens also did not comment. The leader of the SPD parliamentary group, Ralf Mützenich, simply said that the coalition partners could “sharpen their arguments” with this report, but that initially this would be done internally.

The opposition is different: the leader of the Union parliamentary group, Thorsten Frei (CDU), immediately announced that he would sue the Federal Constitutional Court in the event of liberalization. The CDU and parliamentary group leader Friedrich Merz reacted with some caution: he hoped that the chancellor would “dissuade the coalition from bringing another major social conflict to this country.” But first “we will discuss the matter and not go directly to Karlsruhe.”

The president of the left group in the Bundestag, for her part, was pleased that the commission not only recommends legalization within the first twelve weeks, “but also clearly indicates that it is possible to extend the deadline for abortion.” The federal government must now quickly present a bill, said Heidi Reichinnek.

Pro Familia also welcomed the recommendations. The room for maneuver that the Commission grants to the legislature must be “used widely,” calls on the organization and urges politicians to act: the government must “design, consult and decide on the legislative changes necessary during this legislative period.”