Draft Bill seeks to introduce Censorship Zones Around Abortion Clinics

Country: Germany

Date of incident: January 29, 2024

Germany's Federal Family Minister, Lisa Paus, has proposed amendments to the Pregnancy Conflict Act ("Schwangerschaftskonfliktgesetz"), which would impose fines up to 5.000 euros fine on anyone committing a "disturbing" or "confusing" action within 100 meters around abortion clinics. Religious freedom organizations fear that this law could lead to 'censorship zones' like in the UK where individuals have been for silent prayer and other peaceful expressions on public streets around abortion clinics.

According to the German Minister, the bill seeks to ban "side-walk harassment". However, harassment is already illegal under current German law. Besides forbidding actions like obstructing or intimidating individuals the proposed legislation also criminalises the imposition of one's opinions on pregnant person going to an abortion clinic or those who work there. It would furthermore fine individuals who commit acts which are "disturbing" or "confusing" within 100 meters of the entrance of an abortion clinic 5 000 euros.

The law has been criticised for making highly subjective terms, such as "confusing acts", criminal actions. Further, in the proposal it states that "only behaviour that is likely to impair the pregnant woman's ability to receive advice from the counselling centre is prohibited."

Finally, the proposal itself states "any interference with freedom of expression or assembly is only justified to the extent that the general personal rights of pregnant women outweighs these fundamental rights."

Sources: BMFSFJ, Zeit Online, ZDF, tageschau

Image: Wiki Commons