Understanding the non-removal of §219a of the German penal code : A process tracing study of the power struggle over abortion regulation in a confessional/secular government coalition

Detta är en Master-uppsats från Uppsala universitet/Statsvetenskapliga institutionen

Sammanfattning: In 2017 an old law recirculated in Germany which illegalized doctors from informing about abortion other than verbally in person. According to previous research on feminist policy change, a removal (liberalization), of the law hinges on: the presence of an autonomous feminist organization, if civil society, norms and a political majority supports the removal. The more of these factors are present the higher the likelihood of liberalization. All these factors were present in the German case but the outcome of the debate and policy process that occurred, a preservation of the law after a one-year long struggle, was highly unexpected. This thesis aims to understand and explain the outcome focussing on the struggle between the confessional and secular government coalition members CDU/CSU and SPD, as the latter, as expected, supported the removal but then unexpectedly voted for preservation. The study is conducted as an abductive explanatory process tracing, concentrates on the factions within the SPD as well as the CDU/CSU throughout the different stages of the process. The main findings are that confessional parties can utilize formal and informal institutions in a parliamentary setting to avoid a substantial liberalization of abortion regulatory laws. The SPD was split on the issue where its leadership, who compromised to keep the government running, overrun the large faction within the party supporting revocation. 

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