Doctor on the legalization of abortions: “What is there to check?”
On Friday, an expert commission will advise on the legalization of abortions. What does doctor Jana Maeffert expect from this?
taz: Ms. Maeffert, you are one of just over 1,000 doctors in Germany who perform abortions. What does that mean in everyday practice?
Jan Maeffert: Most of the patients sitting in front of me who are unintentionally pregnant are not my own. They were sent to me by their gynecologists because they don’t perform abortions themselves. Many have already phoned several doctors. As required by law, you have already been to a counseling center and have waited three days – in short: you have already cleared several hurdles before you finally end up with me.
Why do so many gynecologists not abort?
Of course, the stigmatization plays a role, which is also reflected in the legal situation: forbidden, but under certain circumstances not punishable. But there are also bureaucratic hurdles, and many of them are directly or indirectly related to the legal situation.
What do you mean specifically?
47 years old, is a gynecologist with her own practice in Berlin. She has been performing abortions for over 20 years
Aborts are not covered by health insurance, because an illegal act cannot be paid for by the statutory health insurance fund. Accordingly, billing deviates from the standard procedure. Every abortion must be reported to the Federal Statistical Office, including information such as the woman’s age, whether she is married, how many children she has, and which state she comes from. All of that has to be recorded. The drugs for medical abortion are subject to a special distribution channel. I have to order them myself, pay in advance and store them separately in the practice. In some federal states, special permits are required to carry out demolitions. A colleague told me that she had to present a police clearance certificate – there is no such thing for any other medical service.
Now that doesn’t sound all that dramatic.
No, but it means extra work in the already stressful everyday practice. Let’s assume: One or two out of ten doctors drop oute because they believe it is part of their job. Two strictly reject it for ethical reasons. The other six are indifferent, neither totally for nor against. But they are extremely put off by the hurdles and think: Why should I take on all this extra work if I don’t have to?
For you it is part of it. Why?
As a gynecologist I would like Being there for my patients in all matters relating to fertility: in the case of wanted or unwanted pregnancies or in the event of an unfulfilled desire to have children. We should not divide into people who carry a pregnancy and those who terminate it – in many biographies both are part of it. For me, it is also part of my job to provide them with the best possible support in both situations.
At the The Commission will meet for the first time on Friday together, which is to examine the existing legal situation on behalf of the traffic light coalition. What are you expecting?
I honestly don’t even know what is there to check. The WHO states very clearly that hurdles worsen medical care and should be avoided. The matter is also clear from a human rights perspective. But Germany just doesn’t stick to it. In my view, this is a scandal.