BERLIN – Germany’s Justice Minister has announced that he will introduce legislation next month to remove from the country’s penal code the ban on doctors “advertising” abortion, one of several more liberal social policies than the new government is considering.

The three parties that make up Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government have long opposed the current rules, but they were defended by the center-right Union bloc of ex-Chancellor Angela Merkel, now in opposition.

Justice Minister Marco Buschmann said in comments to the Funke newspaper group published on Wednesday that there was a “huge backlog of reforms” on social policy. He said the first step would be to remove a paragraph from the German penal code that prohibits the “publicity” of abortions and which is punishable by a fine or jail term of up to two years.

Under a compromise in 2019, the Merkel government left the ban formally in place, but for the first time allowed doctors and hospitals to say on their websites that they perform abortions. However, they were not allowed to give more detailed information.

Buschmann said the so-called paragraph 219a poses a “criminal risk” to doctors performing legal abortions who give factual information on the Internet, and that is “absurd.”

“Many women who are struggling with the issue of abortion seek advice on the Internet,” he said. “It may not be that, of all the people, the doctors who are professionally best qualified to educate them are not allowed to provide information out there.”

Other social policy changes planned by Scholz’s new government coalition of center-left Social Democrats, the Greens and Buschmann’s Free Democrats include the dropping of a 40-year-old law that obliges transgender people to undergo a psychological evaluation and a court decision before officially changing. kind, a process that often involves intimate questions.