Late term abortion

Late term abortions are abortions performed after the 23rd week of pregnancy. At this point the child is already viable. Nevertheless, late-term abortions are allowed under German law and are performed almost daily. The procedure is not only cumbersome for the mother, but the child also suffers this pain.

The methods of late term abortion, which are used in Germany, are the prostaglandin method, the potassium chloride method and the cesarean section.

Prostaglandin method induces violent labor resulting in preterm delivery. The mother endures labor and the entire birthing process during which the child is "born". She feels the kicking of the child in his agony and often hears her child’s cries.

The potassium chloride method prevents the survival of the child after birth. For this, the abdomen of the woman is punctured with a long needle which, with the aid of ultrasound, is inserted into the unborn child’s heart causing an immediate heart attack. 

Today a cesarean section is used as an abortion method when problems arise during an induced miscarriage.

Legal Basis

The 29 June 1995 revision of § 218 of the German criminal code abolished the "embryopathy" (a morbid condition of the embryo or a disorder resulting from abnormal embryonic development) indication. This indication allows for an abortion with impunity until the 22nd week of pregnancy for eugenic reasons, for example because of a suspected disability of the child.

This was intended, so the official wording of the settlement, to meet the claims of disability organizations and churches not to discriminate against disabled people. In reality, the expanded medical use of embryopathy indication has been integrated and the time limit on abortions has been lifted. Since then late term abortions, until just before birth, have become legal when the conditions are met for a § 218 paragraph 2.

The "advanced" medical indication:

The current version of § 218, paragraph 2 of the Criminal Code states:

"An abortion performed by a doctor with the consent of the pregnant woman is not illegal, if the termination of pregnancy, taking into account the current and future living conditions of pregnant women, is shown after medical knowledge to avert danger to the life or the threat of serious harm to the physical or the mental health of pregnant women.  It is also not illegal if danger cannot be averted in any other agreeable way."

Late term abortions (after the 23rd week of pregnancy) in Germany from 1995 to 2010

Source: Federal Statistical Office (
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