German court bans abortion protests outside centres
Abortion opponents do not have the right to confront women considering the procedure in front of counselling centres, a German court ruled in a decision published Thursday.
The administrative court in the southern state of Baden-Wuerttemberg rejected a complaint by a Christian group against a local ordinance in the city of Freiburg against such so-called "pavement consultations".
Two activists from the organisation calling itself Life Centre -- Helpers for God's Precious Children in Germany had stood regularly outside a Pro Familia abortion counselling centre.
There they addressed pregnant women with the words "Please, mama, let your child live" and confronted them with pictures of living and aborted foetuses.
Life Centre argued that in its goal of "savings lives", "measures are justified that might otherwise seem inappropriate".
But the court rejected in summary proceedings an attempt by the group to lift Freiburg's ban, finding that women facing an unwanted pregnancy "have a right to be left alone by strangers who accost them on the street".
It said that the abortion opponents' freedom of speech did not take precedence over the women's right to privacy, even on a subject of intense political debate.
In Germany, abortion is permitted until the 12th week of pregnancy after a consultation with a doctor at least three days before the procedure.
Germany's top tribunal, the constitutional court, ruled last June that anti-abortion activists may protest in front of clinics performing the procedure if they do not harass the clients or violate doctors' privacy rights.
© 2011 AFP