Step by Step: Abortion in Berlin
Dealing with an unwanted pregnancy can be a stressful experience at the best of times, but this is made even more difficult when living in a country that makes access to abortion services difficult to access. Currently, abortion is only legal in Germany if it is carried out in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, and German law states that the start of the pregnancy is on the last day of the period meaning that many people may not realize that they are pregnant until much of the 12-week window has already passed.
One important aspect of seeking an abortion that you may not be aware of is that a pregnant person can only obtain a non-surgical abortion (via pill) up until the 9th week of the pregnancy. This means that if you are to seek help from a doctor after those 9 weeks, you must opt for a surgical procedure instead. This is a more invasive procedure than taking a pill, but it also ensures that the abortion is carried out successfully, as the pill is less effective after 9 weeks. Surgical (or aspiration) abortions are still the most common kind of abortion carried out overall due to higher success rates.
What does an abortion cost in Berlin?
Figuring out what abortion will cost in Germany can be difficult. Abortions are not typically covered by statutory health insurance, and the price will depend on the type of procedure that you are having (pill or surgical); the price ranges between 200 and 600 euros. If you are admitted to the hospital for the surgical procedure you must then pay the daily rate yourself.
However, as with many issues of healthcare, there are nuances to it. The cost can be less for those on lower-income; many women state that through contacting Pro Familia they were able to access an application for the state to cover the cost, which is done through your health insurance provider. In the application, you will not be asked to justify the abortion, but you will have to submit proof of low income. This process must be carried out before the procedure occurs, or the costs will not be covered.
Further, if you do not have insurance but are on a low income, you can have the cost of the abortion covered by any krankenkasse (public health insurance location) such as AOK or TK if you show them your counseling paperwork. It does not matter if you are insured by them or not, they will cover the costs if you have a low income.
Here is a step-by-step guide to getting an abortion in Berlin:
Step 1 - Beratungsschein
The first step you must complete in order to obtain an abortion in Germany is getting a certification form (Beratungsschein) which you get through going to counseling. It is illegal for a doctor to carry out the procedure without this form, so it is an essential step. For information on how to see a counselor, contact Pro Familia.
After the counseling, you are required to take a 3-day ‘reflection’ period before you undergo the procedure. After this, you can go ahead with it.
This can be a scary first step to take, so make sure you take someone that you trust with you for emotional support if you are worried about going to the appointment.
Step 2 - Gynecological Examination
The next step in the process is to undergo a full examination with a gynecologist including an ultrasound. The purpose of this is to ensure that the pregnancy is still within the 12-week window.
Once this has been checked then you will be cleared for the procedure by the gynecologist
Step 3 - Abortion Procedure
There are two different procedures that can be carried out in order to terminate a pregnancy: a pill, and surgery. The pill is available only within the first 9 weeks of pregnancy and is the less invasive way to get an abortion. The first pill is taken at the doctor’s office, and you will likely be able to go home after this. The second pill can be taken at home and works by inducing a strong period that removes the remaining lining of the uterus and terminating the pregnancy. It is important to make sure that you are in a comfortable space as there can be painful cramps and some heavy bleeding. It is advised that you take a couple of days off work at this point and have someone there who can help you.
The surgical method is performed with either local anesthesia of the cervix or general anesthesia at a hospital or surgery. You are likely to be allowed to go home that day and can expect some cramps. It is advised that you take a couple of days off work for this procedure. This method is the most common method of abortion and has a very high success rate. The best method for you can be discussed with the doctor before the procedure.
As well as the procedure you will also have the opportunity to discuss whether there is any birth control that you want to be on, and the doctor can make arrangements for that.
Step 4 - Follow-up
Around one week later there will be another gynecological checkup in order to make sure that the termination was successful. This will be just the same as the first examination, and you will be provided with any arranged birth control.
If you find that after the procedure you are struggling, please do not hesitate to reach out for further counseling in order to help you get through it.
Resources: Here are some helpful resources for those seeking abortion in Berlin.
Aspirations Abortion - useful information about surgical abortions
Pro Familia - this has been reported by many women as the most useful information resource for those seeking an abortion. Call them and they will give you a list of all doctors who will do an abortion / take you through the process. They also provide financial advice and information about getting the procedure covered by state insurance.
https://www.pett-jandi.de/?fbclid=IwAR1QNXVoP3abgnwFT5W2K_L6aLG6cXsmaozUvXYZspkFaxeZbQx87BmndQc - recommended facility for obtaining an abortion
http://www.schwangerschaftsberatung-balance.de/?fbclid=IwAR22md-X7mSazANEIgfZmItPHKc_5fEzQ0GlnUWOHXAUHDFL7JZCjkZPwZk - a facility offering free consultations for those seeking abortions
https://www.berlin.de/ba-charlottenburg-wilmersdorf/verwaltung/aemter/gesundheitsamt/zentrum-fuer-sexuelle-gesundheit-und-familienplanung/artikel.625819.php?fbclid=IwAR06DAwMcctgjNZgqETpLvBfYiXCJrJ93AIMJkbrpwS6AqiSVSMdWNhDhAU - a facility offering consultations for those seeking abortions
https://consult.womenhelp.org/get-abortion-pills?z_language=en&fbclid=IwAR07zrsUzZqTTFjyLFqDnbWF1nSp-UwT44F5479lXmngUSP79bPFMfg0rZc - Information about obtaining an abortion at home (up to 12 weeks into pregnancy)