Germany’s cabinet has approved legislation that will do away with a Nazi-era law forbidding doctors from providing information about abortions.
The bill put forward by Justice Minister Marco Buschmann on Wednesday must now be debated by both houses of parliament.
Doctors in Germany are allowed to say they offer terminations of pregnancies but are not allowed to provide any further information on such procedures.
Critics have said the law makes it too difficult for women to access information about which procedures are available and who provides them.
“It is an untenable situation that doctors who perform terminations of pregnancies, and therefore are best-placed to provide factual information, must fear prosecution under current legislation if they provide information,” Buschmann said in a statement on Wednesday.
“That isn’t appropriate in this day and age,” he added.
The new government laid out its plans to eliminate the law in the coalition agreement signed in November last year.
In Germany – where the government was led by the conservative Christian Democrats for some 16 years until a centre-left coalition came to power in December – abortion is illegal in principle, but not punishable under certain conditions.
A woman may have an abortion within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy if she seeks counselling and presents a certificate to the doctor.
An abortion remains exempt from punishment even after the 12 weeks of pregnancy if the woman’s life is in danger or she is at risk of serious physical or mental harm.
Anne Spiegel, Germany’s minister for women’s issues, said on Wednesday that the government would set up a commission to discuss further issues of reproductive self-determination.
“Self-determined family planning is a human right. Germany is obligated to protect and enforce this human right,” she said.