Skip to main content
Members of the pro-life advocacy group 40 Days for Life pray outside of a German abortion clinic in 2021. (Photo credit: ADF International)

Germany Proposes UK-Style Abortion Clinic 'Censorship Zones', Free-Speech Advocates Sound Alarm

Share This article

A proposed bill in Germany would introduce vaguely defined censorship zones around abortion clinics nationwide, banning behavior perceived as "disturbing" or "confusing" within 100 yards of those facilities, the length of an American football field. 

Fines for infractions to the proposed law could range up to 5,000 euros, which is the equivalent of more than $5,400 in U.S. currency. 

The bill was introduced last month by Federal Family Minister Lisa Paus of Germany's Green Party. 

According to the faith-based legal advocacy organization Alliance Defending Freedom International, (ADF International) the bill would criminalize messages and potentially even prayers within the censorship zones with no legal clarity as to how those terms will be interpreted. 

In response to a parliamentary question seeking information on how, when, and where problematic incidents of hindrance or harassment near abortion facilities occurred, the responsible Ministry recently admitted: "The federal government does not have any concrete numerical findings" that would support the need for such a far-reaching bill, the law firm said. 

Harassment is already fully illegal in Germany. However, free speech advocates are concerned the new law would target peaceful expression. They warn the language in the measure could criminalize a simple offer of help for women in crisis pregnancies, as well as prayer. They point to what has happened in the United Kingdom, where such censorship zones around abortion facilities have already been introduced and enforced. 

***Please sign up for CBN Newsletters and download the CBN News app to ensure you keep receiving the latest news.***

slider img 2

As CBN News has reported, over the past year, the U.K.'s "Thought Police" have been busy. As we reported in October 2023, Isabel Vaughan-Spruce, a pro-life volunteer, and co-director of March for Life UK, was standing still while silently praying within an abortion "buffer zone" in Birmingham when she was approached by West Midlands Police officers. They then proceeded to "investigate" her thoughts. 

She has been vindicated twice for having committed no crime after she was arrested for silently praying inside an abortion "buffer zone."

A video posted to YouTube showed Vaughan-Spruce telling the Police Community Support officer she was not participating in a protest. There is no prohibition on being merely present in a zone.

But the officer asked her if she was silently praying for "unborn children" and if she was a member of a pro-life or pro-choice organization, the nonprofit law firm said. 

Vaughan-Spruce later received a notice of a fine, but the Birmingham Council later said it would not impose the fine on this occasion, but issued a warning that it would do so in the future. 

The co-director of March for Life UK is no stranger to the West Midlands Police. As CBN News reported in September 2023, the police finally dropped a charge against her after she was arrested in March for a second time for the "offense" of silently praying in her head within an abortion facility "buffer zone."

She also received an apology from the police department for the six months the investigation took to reach a conclusion. 

In addition, another Christian in Birmingham, Patrick Parkes, had been approached by officers a few days prior at the same abortion facility and questioned about the content of his thoughts. He later received a warning that he would be fined if he silently prayed again in the abortion zone, the ADF UK said. 

According to the law firm, another individual recording video of the police officer's interaction with Parkes also received the same warning.

Two other individuals currently await trial for the same "thoughtcrime." ADF International is supporting their legal defense.

"Everyone Suffers When We Start to Censor the Right to Speak Freely"

"The right to peacefully pray is protected by international and national law. No matter one's opinion on abortion, everyone suffers when we start to censor the right to speak freely, pray, or engage in consensual conversations," Dr. Felix Böllmann, German lawyer and director of European Advocacy for ADF International, said in statement.

"The federal government wants to ban something but doesn't know what or why. This law doesn't ban 'confusion', it creates more of it – both for citizens trying to understand the law and police officers who will have to enforce any vague new prohibitions," Böllmann added. 

The draft bill is currently with the Federal Council and is still open for amendments. It will be voted on in the German parliament, ADF International said. 

Paus, the minister who is pushing for the bill to become law, said: "If you harass people with expressions of opinion that they clearly don't want to hear, then this will become an offense punishable with a fine of up to €5,000."

ADF International spokesperson Ludwig Brühl disagreed with the German government official. 

"Of course harassment is rightly prohibited – and has been for a long time. But this is just an excuse to marginalize, punish and censor certain opinions. Pro-life volunteers are there to pray, or to offer information about help available to women who would like to consider other options than abortion," he said. 

Share This article

About The Author

Steve Warren is a senior multimedia producer for CBN News. Warren has worked in the news departments of television stations and cable networks across the country. In addition, he also worked as a producer-director in television production and on-air promotion. A Civil War historian, he authored the book The Second Battle of Cabin Creek: Brilliant Victory. It was the companion book to the television documentary titled Last Raid at Cabin Creek currently streaming on Amazon Prime. He holds an M.A. in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma and a B.A. in Communication from the University of