Germany's coalition government agreed in principle on Tuesday January 29th to soften a Nazi-era law that bars medical doctors from advertising abortion services.
Gynaecologists, hospitals and public health services will now be allowed to share essential information about where and how women can terminate unwanted pregnancies.
AFP reports that the bill is expected to be approved by Chancellor Angela Merkel's cabinet on February 6th and then pass both houses of parliament.
German law allows abortions but effectively discourages them through various hurdles, including the law in question, article 219a, which dates to May 1933, shortly after Adolf Hitler assumed full powers of Nazi Germany.
The case revived an emotional debate in the coalition government led by Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats (CDU). Junior partners the Social Democrats (SPD) wanted the article scrapped, a demand backed by leftist opposition parties the Greens and Die Linke. In the end, the ruling parties reached a compromise that many read as a defeat for the SPD.
Health Minister Jens Spahn of the CDU said women needed access to crucial information but added that abortions should not be advertised because they are "not a medical procedure like any other."
The draft bill, seen by AFP, would allow federal health authorities and the German Medical Association to publish nationwide lists of doctors who perform abortions.
In other changes, the age limit for women entitled to free contraceptives would be raised from 20 to 22 years, and training on performing abortions will be expanded for medical students.