Journal Article

Landmark in German abortion Law: The German 1995 Compromise Compared with English Law

Christina P. Schlegel

in International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family

Volume 11, issue 1, pages 36-62
Published in print April 1997 | ISSN: 1360-9939
Published online April 1997 | e-ISSN: 1464-3707 | DOI:
Landmark in German abortion Law: The German 1995 Compromise Compared with English Law

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A new era in Germany's abortion legislation was inaugurated with the Pregnant Women's and Families' Aid Amendment Act (Schwangeren- und Familienhilfednderungsgesetz),' which came into force partially on 1 October 1995, partially on 1 January 1996. The political parties finally reached a compromise so that the German Federal Parliament could pass this legislative package in July 1995. One can only hope that this ends the very controversial legislative and judicial debate in Germany which has been going on for more than two decades. This article first summarizes the recent development in German law. The core points of the 1995 solution (a mixture of the time-limit, the counselling and the indication concepts) are then compared with the English indicationbased system highlighting the main differences. At first sight the English system seems to be more restrictive. But looked at more closely, German law is not more liberal. This is due partly to constitutional restrictions arising from article 1(1) and article 2(2) of the German Constitution protecting the embryo and partly to the even more restrictive views prevailing in Parliament in 1995. The ensuing discussion of the ethical aspects of abortion focuses on the cases of severe fetal abnormality and post-rape pregnancies. It can be concluded that the abolition of the embryopathic indication was an ethical necessity for Germany to avoid any comparison with the Nazi Weltanschauung, but that the listing of rape as an indication is morally permissible.

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Subjects: Family Law ; Marriage and the Family

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