On Thursday, Section 219a of the Criminal Code, which regulates the ban on advertising abortions, was up for debate in the Bundestag. The coalition is divided in this topic. Can a consensus be found at all?
Interviewer: We can find information about the worst things on the Internet. We find instructions on how to build guns and bombs and much more disgusting things. Why in today's times the law must regulate that there must be no information about abortions on the Internet?
Christian Hirte (CDU Member of Parliament and Chairman of the Catholic Cardinal-Hoffner-Circle in the Union Parliamentary Group in the Bundestag): The law does not regulate this, section 219 prohibits advertising in a grossly offensive manner or by disseminating information to gain one's own pecuniary advantage. General information on abortion can also be found today.
Interviewer: I take up the great counter-argument from the side that wants to abolish the paragraph completely. If you can not properly inform about the possibility of abortion or the information is not spread on the Internet, as it was now with the court decision with the doctor from Giessen, then the pregnant women in crisis situations resort to much more drastic means, endanger not only the possible child, but also put themselves in danger. Is this not a legitimate argumentation?
Shepherd: This is not a legitimate argumentation from my point of view, because – as I said – even the information today is not illegal and punishable, but always only then – the law says quite clearly – if this is done in a grossly offensive manner or just with the intention of making a personal financial gain. In the overall mixture of paragraphs 218 et seq. in the penal code, it is a question of creating a finely balanced system, which, among other things, provides for pregnancy conflict counseling. In the nineties, after difficult discussions, the legislator took just the information offer as a very important part into consideration.
Interviewer: But if it is so easy to obtain the information, why is there so much protest against it??
Shepherd: I believe that those who are working very actively against this are not only concerned with the ban on advertising, i.e. with this paragraph 219a, but with the overall situation, with the circling of the entire pregnancy conflict compromise that was found in the 1990s. If you want to preserve the basic principles, you also have to preserve paragraph 219a, because it is part of the task of the law to take Article 1 seriously, which says that the dignity of the human being is inviolable. It is the duty of every state authority to respect and protect them. This also includes the fact that the legislator and the unborn human being cannot defend and protect themselves. That is why the state must take all measures to also launch a life-affirming and life-supporting framework legislation.
Interviewer: Now, this Thursday in the Bundestag, the second and third readings on the ie are scheduled to take place. The government is not in complete agreement. You as a union say: we must keep the paragraph as it is. The SPD says: We have to reform the whole thing. Is there any way to come to a compromise? After all, you can't just say we're just providing a little information about abortions.
Shepherd: The topic of information could certainly be discussed a bit more intensively from the Union's point of view. There is – as I said – already a whole range of measures today. But we could talk about whether to be more proactive in providing information, for example, at counseling centers, especially about those doctors who perform such abortions. But basically the conflict situation is relatively clear. The Union wants the protection of life to be guaranteed as far as possible. This also requires that one cannot allow advertisements for the abortion of life.
Interviewer: What do you think, how will it end?
Shepherd: I am there honestly over-questioning and cannot estimate that yet correctly. I find it problematic that we are voting at all, because we have agreed in the coalition, of course, that we will only initiate proceedings together. Therefore I cannot answer that yet.
Interviewer: That is, you also can't say what you would do as a union if the paragraph were to be reformed or abolished?
Shepherd: We already had a similar situation at the end of the last legislative period. There we had a vote on marriage for all, which then led to homosexual partnerships also being considered marriage. Also there it was so that the SPD committed a coalition break in all clarity; not in that the individual delegates had voted for this law "marriage for all", that is incumbent on everyone individually, but by the fact that the parliamentary group of the SPD had brought this at all with to the vote.
The interview was conducted by Renardo Schlegelmilch.