Ever since the gynaecologist Kristina Hänel was sentenced to afine for violating §219a StGB by offering abortion services on her website, the debate about reproductive rights in Germany has returned to the spotlight of mainstream political and media debate.
In February 2018 a majority in Parliament voted in favour of changing the law. However, the Social Democratic Party (SPD) retracted their motion for strategic political reasons and impeded the repeal of the paragraph that forbids “advertising“ abortions. Abortion in Germany, according to §218 StGB, is still a criminal offence but exempt from punishment if done during the first 12weeks of the pregnancy and after mandatory counselling.
Until today, §218 und §219a remain in force.
Using paragraphs 218 und 219a as a starting point, the documentary film project Interruptio (working title) aims to take a closer look at reproductive rights and justice in contemporary Germany.
Sexual and reproductive rights and justice are achieved in a society when all people have the power, possibility and resources to make meaningful and free decisions about their bodies, sexuality and reproduction.
By incorporating a mixture of private stories, interviews with specialists and with activists, the film attempts to shed light on the scope and multifaceted reasons why reproductive self-determination limited in Germany. Although the focus lies on the right to abortion, the related issue of the right to bear children and how this right is influenced by societal discourses and legal frameworks is also raised:
Who should be having children? Which children are desirable?
The project strives for an intersectional take on the topic, in order to widen the perspective beyond the narrative of the white, German, cis-hetero, able-bodied woman.
Making no claim to completeness, the film is to be understood as a polyphonic choir highlighting different views and experiences about reproductive rights and justice.
The personal level: “I had an abortion“
People who have had an abortion in Germany share their personal experiences. Possible topics include the decision to abort, finding information, the mandatory counselling, reactions and comments from others, the costs, finding a doctor, etc.
The structural level: the consequences of §218 and §219a
Experts and activists report: What do the „advertising ban” and legal prohibition look like in practice? How are abortion techniques taught in a country in which abortion is still de jure illegal? How do the mandatory counselling sessions go for the ones who conduct them?
How easy is it for refugees or low-income people to get access to abortions? How different is the situation among the different regions of Germany? How was the situation in the GDR and what consequences did reunification have on the legal situation we have today?
The discursive and moral level: beyond the pro-choice/ pro-life debate
Experts, theoreticians and activists give insight on:
The question of eugenics and prenatal diagnosis: some feminists and disability activists are in conflict over prenatal testing. How can the right to choose be reconciled with an effective criticism of neo-eugenicist politics?
Some children are desirable, others are not: Germany has a long history of racist and eugenic population politics. What is the impact of this history on the situation today? How can one engage effectively for the right to abortion without forgetting the particular struggles that migrants, refugees, people of colour, Rroma or people with disabilities are confronted with when it comes to the right to bear children?
Who are desirable parents and who aren’t? Questions about idealised family constellations and queer families.
The post-colonial perspective: how can one actively support the right to abortion and the right to bear children in the so-called „Global South“?