German Minister Lashes Abortion Lobby
One of the chief rivals to succeed German Chancellor Angela Merkel has provoked a row in her coalition government with an outspoken attack on abortion campaigners. Jens Spahn, newly promoted to the cabinet as health minister, spoke out against calls to lift a German ban on advertising by abortion clinics. “Some of those who now want to promote abortions are uncompromising enough when it comes to animal rights,” he said. “But in this debate they no longer take into account that it’s a question of human life.” The remarks were condemned by Mrs Merkel’s coalition partners from the centre-Left Social Democrats (SPD), and by the opposition Green Party.
It is the second row to rock Mrs Merkel’s new coalition in its first seven days in office. Horst Seehofer, the interior minister, set off a similar controversy when he declared “Islam does not belong in Germany”. Mrs Merkel was forced to bring the conservative Mr Seehofer and Mr Spahn into her cabinet in order to win backing for a new coalition, and she may be in for a turbulent time as she seeks to contain their more hardline instincts.
Mr Spahn in particular is known to harbour ambitions of succeeding the chancellor when she eventually steps down as leader of the Christian Democrat party (CDU). Despite being openly homosexual, he has carved out a role as the darling of the party’s conservative wing.
Germany legalised abortion in 1992 but the law prevents abortionists from advertising their services. Mrs Merkel’s party has opposed moves to change the law, which Mr Spahn described as “a hard won social compromise”. But others in the party seem willing to compromise. Mr Spahn’s chief rival as Mrs Merkel’s eventual successor, party chairman Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said she opposed lifting the ban completely but was open to “a solution that gives women better access to the necessary information”.
The Daily Telegraph. March 19.