German doctor convicted by nazi era anti-abortion law

Kristina Hänel and her information leaflet, NOS photo

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Giving information about abortion in Germany: 6000 euro fine

In an open letter to the German government, doctors, lawyers and trade unions demand an end to a controversial anti-abortion law. Since 1933, since the Nazi time, it is illegal for our eastern neighbours that doctors give public information about abortion. That is seen as ‘advertising’. Even indicating that you do it as a doctor is punishable. This has major consequences for doctors and for women who want an abortion.

Kristina Hänel found that out as well. She is a GP and has specialized as an abortion doctor in the Netherlands. She put a brochure of three pages on her website, in which she informs patients about the process ….

In Germany, various anti-abortion groups are active that monitor all websites of all doctors. They filed a complaint against Hänel. “The judge found that I gave factual information, but according to the law it had to be classified as advertising, and I was sentenced to a 6,000 euro fine.”

She is not the only one. Every year 25 to 30 doctors in Germany are convicted for violating paragraph 219a of the German Penal Code.

The law in question was introduced by the Nazis in 1933. According to Hänel they wanted to make it impossible for Jewish doctors to work because they performed abortions more often than Christian colleagues.

After the war, the Allies retained the law because they could not discover a specific Nazi ideology in it. In many countries, abortion was completely banned at the time, and an advertising ban on something that was forbidden was in their view not illogical.

And although abortion in Germany is now regulated by law, it remains impossible to inform women about it in public. “I think that is absurd and not of this time anymore”, says Hänel.

‘Advisory service’

The effect of the law is also that women can hardly find the addresses of doctors who perform abortions. In theory, they should receive it from the “maternity counseling service”, where you are obliged to go if you want an abortion.

In some regions, the Catholic Church controls that service, and it simply refuses to tell which doctor can perform the operation. Some GPs also refuse to tell it on principle.

The only German website that lists all abortion doctors is a hate site of an anti-abortion activist: There, abortion is compared with the Holocaust. The addresses can be found between bloody images of fetuses.

“I think that’s terrible for women”, says Hänel. Since she is mentioned on that site with name and address (“I am a VIP there”), she is also threatened with death.

End prohibition

A majority of German parties want to delete the notorious paragraph from German law, but Merkel‘s combination of CDU and CSU parties prevents that. Certainly the CSU is taking a very conservative course this year, because the party wants to win the elections in its own federal state of Bavaria [where they are trying to outflank the neofascist AfD party on the right].

Government coalition junior partner the SPD has given Merkel until the autumn to make a change, otherwise they themselves will put it on the agenda. They could cause a crisis in the government coalition. But many Germans wonder if the party will dare to do that. Hänel also: “I have yet to see it”.

She laughs and says that she will keep up her fight anyway. “I am a marathon runner, so I have a long breath, I do not give up.”

See also here.

8 thoughts on “German doctor convicted by nazi era anti-abortion law

  1. Pingback: Comedian Michelle Wolf on Trump at White House Correspondents’ Dinner | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  2. According to The New York Times, the Trump administration is about to announce a nationwide gag rule to stop doctors from even talking to women about abortion.1

    Trump’s gag rule will ban clinics that receive federal family planning funding, such as Planned Parenthood, from referring women for abortion, providing counseling on abortion, or even saying the word “abortion.”2 Doctors will be forced to withhold information from their patients–or the clinic will lose funding and potentially be forced to shut its doors to ALL patients, cutting off access to family planning, STI testing, cancer screenings, and more.

    UltraViolet Education Fund is launching an emergency campaign to stop Trump’s gag rule.

    Will you rush an urgent donation to UltraViolet Action and help fight back?

    On day one of the Trump-Pence administration, they issued the global gag rule, banning health care providers in developing countries that receive family planning assistance from the U.S. from providing abortion counseling.3

    The latest gag rule–a “domestic” gag rule–would impose those same restrictions on family planning providers in the U.S.

    Under Trump’s gag rule, if a pregnancy threatens a woman’s health, her doctor is not even allowed to mention abortion as an option. Women will no longer be able to trust that the information they are getting from their health care provider is accurate.

    More than 4,000 clinics receive funding through the federal Title X program, serving about 4 million patients. Federal law already bans any of this funding from being used for abortion. The gag rule would go even further by preventing doctors from referring women to other clinics or even answering basic questions about the procedure.

    Unless the gag rule is stopped, the impact will be disastrous. Many clinics will be forced to shut down or sharply reduce capacity. Others would be forced to turn women in the most desperate situations away without basic information about abortion.

    UltraViolet Education Fund is fighting back to stop the Trump gag rule. Will you chip in $5 to UltraViolet Action?

    Thank you for stepping up.

    –Nita, Shaunna, Kat, Karin, Adam, Holly, Kathy, Susan, Anathea, Audine, Shannon, Emma, Pilar, Natalie, Melody, Lindsay, Pam, and Ryan, the UltraViolet Action team



    1. Trump Administration to Tie Health Facilities’ Funding to Abortion Restrictions, The New York Times, May 18, 2018

    2. The domestic gag rule on abortion, explained, Vox, May 11, 2018

    3. Ibid.

    See also


  3. Friend,

    It’s being reported that President Trump is planning to implement a domestic “gag rule” against health care providers, which would roll back funding for family planning and would go so far as to forbid doctors who receive these funds from even discussing the full range of reproductive health care with their patients.

    This would be an attack on women’s reproductive freedom that will cause real, widespread harm to women and families who rely on health clinics that rely on federal family planning dollars to keep their doors open.

    A domestic gag rule has never gone into effect in the United States before. Sign your name to fight back against this attempt to undermine women’s health care and prevent it from going forward.

    This would be one of the most extreme attacks from President Trump and Vice President Pence on women’s health and rights, and we can’t let them get away with it.

    Keep fighting,

    Senator Patty Murray


  4. The Trump administration is about to literally BAN the word abortion from the doctor’s office. Yes, you read that right.

    For clinics and hospitals that accept dollars from the Title X program–the nation’s program for affordable birth control and reproductive health care–doctors, nurses, and other health care providers would be banned from providing, counseling on, or referring any patient for an abortion. Even if it was needed to protect a woman’s health or save her life. Even if she asked.1

    It gets worse, Linda. This doesn’t just impact women who need abortion. If clinics refuse to comply with this proposed rule, the government will stop reimbursing them for treating patients who cannot pay. Eventually, that could shutter a clinic, ending services like birth control, cervical and breast cancer screening, and HIV testing for the entire community. This can be devastating–more than half of Planned Parenthood clinics are in rural or medically underserved areas where there are few or no other options for essential women’s health care.2

    But we can defeat this. The Trump administration has backed off harmful rule changes before, such as allowing employers to steal workers’ tips–and it is accepting comments on the new proposal. If we generate fast, widespread outrage, we can force the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to back down.

    Tell HHS Secretary Alex Azar: “Reject gag rules for Title X providers.”
    Sign the petition

    This policy would be a disaster for patients who use clinics funded by the Title X program. If a patient discovers she is pregnant after a cancer diagnosis, a doctor could not counsel her that abortion is even an option. It would also block Title X patients from seeing any provider, even the clinic around the corner, if that provider also offers abortion. That includes Planned Parenthood, which sees more than 40% of America’s Title X patients.

    Many of these patients can’t afford such a radical move. 43% of patients served by the Title X program are uninsured, and nearly two out of every three patients live at or below the poverty line.3 Low-income people tend to lack transportation or time off work to find another provider, so this extreme move would drive the most vulnerable population away from safe, affordable medical care–forcing many to forgo care entirely. This is a direct attack on women of color–21% of patients under Title X are Black, and 32% are Latinx.4

    This attack on basic health care for millions cannot go unanswered. We know that outrage over our health care can save it–we’ve staved off Trumpcare and more. If we speak out quickly and loudly now, we can do the same again.

    Will you sign the petition demanding HHS reject this outrageous proposal?

    Thanks for speaking out.

    –Nita, Shaunna, Kat, Karin, Adam, Holly, Kathy, Susan, Anathea, Audine, Shannon, Emma, Pilar, Natalie, Melody, Pam, Lindsay, and Ryan, the UltraViolet team


    1. Trump Rule Would Bar Some Abortion Advice at Federally Funded Clinics, New York Times, May 22, 2018

    2. The Irreplaceable Role of Planned Parenthood Health Centers, Planned Parenthood, accessed May 18, 2018

    3. Family Planning Annual Report: 2016 National Summary, RTI International, accessed May 17, 2018

    4. Ibid.


  5. Pingback: Women’s rights victory in Irish referendum | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  6. Pingback: Women’s rights victory in southern Ireland, now northern Ireland | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  7. Pingback: German film director Margarethe von Trotta gets award | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  8. Pingback: Corporate sponsorship of anti-abortion politicians | Dear Kitty. Some blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.