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Why the number of abortions in Germany is rising sharply

It's a number that makes you think: After the Corona baby boom last year, the number of abortions has risen sharply again.

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Why the number of abortions in Germany is rising sharply

It's a number that makes you think: After the Corona baby boom last year, the number of abortions has risen sharply again. Between the beginning of April and the end of June, 25,600 women in Germany had an abortion, according to the Federal Statistical Office in Wiesbaden - an increase of 11.5 percent compared to the second quarter of the previous year.

In the first quarter of 2022, the number of aborts rose by 4.8 to around 25,800 compared to the same quarter of the previous year. If this trend continues, the number of abortions will reach the 100,000 mark again this year. The number of abortions before the Corona crisis had leveled off at this level for several years.

In 2020 they then fell slightly and in 2021 sharply to 94,596 cases. "The strong percentage increase now is also based on the mathematical effect that the numbers were so low in the same quarter last year," explains Heiko Schirrmacher, who is responsible for abortion statistics at the Federal Statistical Office.

But what else led to the increase in numbers? From Schirrmacher's point of view, a whole range of influencing factors can be considered here. On the one hand, the number of abortions naturally correlates with that of pregnancies: if more women become pregnant and the rate of unwanted pregnancies is constant, this also results in more abortions. If the propensity to have abortions falls, the number of births rises. But that can only be measured in hindsight.

In the Corona year 2021, for example, there were significantly more births than before. 796,000 babies were born last year, more than in 25 years. The fourth quarter of 2021 in particular was booming - apparently a consequence of the winter lockdown 2020/21. According to analyzes by the Institute of German Economics, however, the baby boom did not take place in all German regions – it did not occur in the eastern German states, for example. And the extreme increase in births was not sustainable either. In the first half of 2022, the number of births fell again by 7.8 percent.

What other factors are responsible for the rising number of abortions? Schirrmacher can only put forward hypotheses here. From his point of view, it plays a role that since the end of the corona restrictions, contact exchanges such as concerts and clubs have been working again – and with them the opportunities for unplanned sex.

In the pandemic, many partnerships have also reached their limits. Pregnancy then no longer fits into the concept. And finally, since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, a new crisis scenario has become increasingly clear. "Economic reasons are a strong motive for or against pregnancy," says Schirrmacher. "And on a psychological level, too, war and crisis have an influence on the decision."

The flight movements from Ukraine and the strict abortion legislation in Poland could also play a role. At least that's what Nadja Milewski, research group leader at the Federal Institute for Population Research (BiB), points out. "There were some reports of pregnant and sometimes raped Ukrainian women who requested an abortion in Germany," says Milewski.

Some women from Poland would probably also come to Germany for an abortion. Overall, however, this factor does not have a very large impact. "Ultimately, it's a big picture made up of many pieces of the puzzle," says Milewski. “No woman makes the decision to have an abortion lightly. But we also live in extraordinary times. It cannot be ruled out that the proportion of abortions in all pregnancies will increase as a result.” At the moment, however, the data is not yet reliable.

This is also confirmed by Anja Koch, spokeswoman for the Donum Vitae association, which advises pregnant women nationwide. The association carried out 86,991 consultations in 2021, 6840 of which were conflict consultations. That was less than in previous years. Koch cannot yet say whether there will be more again this year. But the reasons that are most frequently given for wanting an abortion are. "Economic and financial reasons always come first here," says Koch. "This will certainly not decrease in times of crisis."

"Kick-off Politics" is WELT's daily news podcast. The most important topic analyzed by WELT editors and the dates of the day. Subscribe to the podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, among others, or directly via RSS feed.

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