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Legal Team

We are working with an international lawyer network to defend free speech, freedom of religion and right to life.

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Bundestag Public Hearing

Speech by Tomislav Čunović, Of Counsel at the Institute of Law and Justice and Managing Director of 40 Days for Life International at the public hearing in the German Parliament (Bundestag) on May 13th, 2024. Requested statement for the public hearing in the Committee on Family, Seniors, Women, and Youth, regarding the Federal Government's draft bill
"Draft of a Second Act to Amend the Pregnancy Conflict Act" BT-Drs. 20/10861 

Committee Document 20(13)109f 

Good day! My name is Tomislav Čunović, I am a lawyer and Of Counsel at the Institute of Law and Justice and Managing Director of 40 Days for Life International. I am non-partisan.

"Ladies and gentlemen, I do not share your opinion, but I would give my life to ensure that you can express it."
This sentence is attributed to Voltaire and it very well captures the core of the problem we are facing here.

This is not about one's stance on the issue of abortion - pro-life or pro-choice - but whether one can still freely express their opinion on this topic at all.

The present draft law to amend the Pregnancy Conflict Act is impractical, will lead to more legal uncertainty, and further legal conflicts are preprogrammed. There is a likely violation of the principle of legal certainty, a violation of the prohibition on individual case laws, and in particular, a disproportionate interference with the right of assembly due to an unnecessary 100-meter distance regulation.

Neither peaceful prayer nor the mutually agreed conversation between a pregnant woman and a sidewalk counselor constitute an intrusive or coercive situation and therefore cannot be prohibited. Our laws do not allow for that.

The Federal Constitutional Court sets very high standards for restrictions on freedom of assembly and freedom of expression.

Therefore, the real problem here is not peaceful pro-life activists, but the political elites who allow themselves to be manipulated by the abortion lobby and for ideological reasons do not want to accept the current legal situation or the case law on this matter. Instead, peaceful and Christian-motivated pro-life activists are to be generally suspected and criminalized by law. This is unconstitutional.

Human life and human dignity are the highest legal goods of our constitution, and the state has the duty to protect the life and dignity of every unborn human being. Human dignity is non-negotiable and does not depend on the spirit of the times or parliamentary majorities. This is something you should have learned from German history.

People for whom the life of an unborn child is a matter of prayer gather peacefully in front of Pro Familia to pray. In doing so, they are engaging in something that belongs to the Christian tradition: praying for someone who is in mortal danger or about to die. This behavior is constitutionally unobjectionable. Freedom of assembly means that the holder of the fundamental right can freely determine the place, content, time, and manner of the assembly, as long as the assembly is peaceful. And that is the case here.

The courts could not find any harassment in the Frankfurt and Pforzheim cases. Last year, the Federal Administrative Court (BVerwG) in the third instance determined that blanket bans on prayer meetings in front of counseling centers are inadmissible and that there is no absolute protection against confrontation for a pregnant woman with the topic of the assembly.

There is also no information available to the authorities regarding harassment in connection with assemblies or prayer processions in other cities. The federal government had to admit this upon request.

The fact is, there is no need for this law. The current legal situation is entirely sufficient to protect the rights of all parties involved. I began with Voltaire and will end with Montesquieu: "If it is not necessary to make a law, it is necessary not to make a law!"

Thank you for your attention!

 

Longer written version

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