Expert Panel Calls on Germany to Legalize Abortion in First 12 Weeks

A government-appointed commission in Germany recommended on Monday that lawmakers legalize abortion during the first trimester of pregnancy, a move that could push the country into a long-avoided debate on an issue that for decades remained in a legal gray zone.

Outside of exceptions for medical reasons or because of rape, abortions in Germany are technically illegal. But, in practice, they are broadly permitted in the first 12 weeks if a woman has received mandatory counseling and then waits at least three days to terminate the pregnancy.

Abortion rights activists say Germany has grown increasingly out of sync with the rest of Europe, where several countries have recently moved to loosen restrictions on abortion or to bolster laws protecting access to the procedure — especially after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022.

Last month, legislators in France voted to explicitly enshrine access to abortion in the Constitution, making their country the first in the world to do so.

In Poland, where a previous conservative government enacted a near-total ban on abortion, politicians are moving forward with draft legislation to loosen some of Europe’s most restrictive abortion laws.

Last year, Germany’s chancellor, Olaf Scholz followed through on one of the agenda items set out by his governing coalition by setting up a commission of ethicists, doctors, psychiatrists and other experts to issue recommendations on abortion, egg donations and surrogacy.

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