By Jack Turner
After months of debate, the Bundestag has approved the controversial coalition compromise on the so-called advertising ban on abortions. Receiving 371 votes in favour and 277 votes against (with four abstentions), it means pregnant women will now be able to find doctors more easily for an abortion, as doctors, hospitals and other institutions can now indicate that they are aborting. For further information, however, women will still have to refer to official bodies – a compromise criticized by doctors, victims and parts of the opposition.
The SPD, Greens, Die Linke and the FDP all called for the abolition of the advertising ban, but received strong opposition from the CDU and AfD. Despite seeing progress in the compromise for now, the SPD still wants to completely abolish paragraph 219a in the long term. Criticism of the compromise was fierce from some, with Cornelia Möhring (Die Linke) describing the result as a "super scandal", who was outraged that the SPD had agreed to such a "lazy compromise".
Elsewhere, the so-called ‘Digital Pact’ has finally been approved by the Federal Council and Bundestag, as they agreed on formulations for a constitutional amendment, which can now provide billions in state aid. Receiving the necessary two-thirds majority in parliament (574 yes votes to 74 votes against), students and teachers at Germany's schools can now hope for newer computers, better internet and digital teaching methods. In addition, the money will be used to boost social housing, and will benefit commuters with the expansion of regional rail transport.The constitutional change has been criticized by some however, with columnist Jasper von Altenbockum bemoaning that in the future, citizens will no longer know who is responsible for what in their state and that it cemented a shift of government responsibilities towards an increasingly dominant Berlin.
Number of deportations to Maghreb states rises
It was found that deportations to the Maghreb countries rose by 35 percent in the past year. This comes after a vote at the Federal Council last week for the reclassification of Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia as "safe countries of origin" for asylum seekers was postponed.
"Safe countries" are countries where it can be shown that there is generally no need to fear state persecution and that the state in question can protect against non-state persecution. Should this altered status of "safe country" be approved, quicker asylum decisions and deportations would be made made possible.