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Abortion Continues to Decline in Germany by Hélène de Lauzun

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Abortion Continues to Decline in Germany

The German Federal Statistical Office in Wiesbaden released on 7 April 2022 the abortion figures in Germany for the year 2021. There were 94,600 abortions registered in Germany in 2021, i.e., a decrease of 5.4% compared to the previous year. The year 2020 had already seen a small decrease of 0.9% compared to 2019.

Only 4% of abortions were performed for medical reasons or sexual offences, proving once again that the most serious reasons for having an abortion generally used for pro-choice activists to justify abortion—risk to the mother, a child conceived in rape—remain extremely rare.

The exact causes of the decline in the number of abortions are difficult to determine. The decline is particularly significant among younger women aged 15 to 25: in 10 years, since 2011, abortions have fallen by an average of 38% in this age group. An objective and obvious reason for this decline lies in the general aging of the German population: the share of young women in the general population has been steadily declining over the past 10 years.

The paradox is that these figures are being made public at a time when the promotion of abortion has been made possible in Germany. Indeed, the German government decided on March 9th to repeal the article of the penal code that prohibited doctors from promoting voluntary termination of pregnancy to their patients. A law dating back to the Nazi-era forbade doctors from providing information about abortions. As a consequence, German doctors were allowed to say they offer termination of pregnancies but were not allowed to provide any further information on such procedures. In November 2021, the new government had declared it would abolish this disposition in the general declaration made by the three parties of the ruling coalition. 

We will have to wait until the spring of 2022 to see if the change in legislation has had an effect on the statistics.

In any case, Germany has a low overall abortion rate in relation to its population of 82.9 million, while France registered the sad record of 230,000 abortions per 67.8 million inhabitants in 2021—almost three times as many as its neighbour across the Rhine. 

Hélène de Lauzun studied at the École Normale Supérieure de Paris. She taught French literature and civilization at Harvard and received a Ph.D. in History from the Sorbonne. She is the author of Histoire de l’Autriche (Perrin, 2021).