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East German Lawmakers Back Liberal Abortion Law

July 12, 1990

EAST BERLIN (AP) _ East Germany’s major political factions said Thursday they will fight to retain East Germany’s liberal abortion law when the nation unites with West Germany.

Also Thursday, the head of the West German central bank said East German factories must make radical changes to survive the increased competition that will come with reunification.

During an intense debate, most of the political factions that control East Germany’s Parliament spoke out in favor of retaining the abortion law in the territory of what is now East Germany.

The German states are negotiating a final treaty that would result in the creation of a single Germany by year’s end and the disparity in abortion laws is among the differences officials in each nation will be negotiating in the coming weeks.

Some East German lawmakers expressed fear that their nation would become a lure for ″abortion tourists″ from West Germany who head to the east for the operation.

The arch-conservative German Social Union was the only party of Prime Minister Lothar de Maiziere’s broad governing coalition that objected to retaining the law.

″An abortion is always murder,″ said lawmaker Sabine Landgraf of the German Social Union.

Family Minister Christa Schmidt told lawmakers the ministry has received more than 100,000 letters from citizens asking that the abortion law be retained, and 25,317 demanding that it be revoked.

East German allows a female over age 14 to receive an abortion on demand during the first three months of pregnancy.

West Germany allows abortions in the first three months only in cases of rape or incest, if the mother’s life is in danger, if the fetus is expected to be severely handicapped, or if the woman’s financial situation would make it impossible for her to raise a child.

There were 75,297 abortions performed in West Germany last year, a nation of 60 million people, and 73,000 abortions in East Germany, which has 16 million people.

Also Thursday, Bundesbank President Karl Otto Poehl told reporters following a Central Bank Council meeting that was held in the former headquarters of the Communist Party Central Committee that West German taxpayers are unlikely to support unprofitable East German factories for long.

Following the July 1 economic merger the bank began controlling the money supply of both German states.

″East German companies have to earn their marks,″ he said after the bank’s board held its first meeting in East Berlin.

East German factories have recently cut payrolls and forming joint ventures with Western firms in an effort to survive.

But an East German official said many of the nation’s factories are firing foreign workers first as they slash employee payrolls to compete with Western busineses.

″I am ashamed of that,″ said Horst Kinitz, head of the state employment agency. He called such layoffs illegal because they are discriminatory.

An estimated 80,000 Mozambicans, Cubans and Vietnamese are working in East German enterprises under contracts with those countries made by the former Communist government.

The government is trying to blunt the effects of unemployment by encouraging enterprises to reduce worker hours to keep more people on payrolls.

About 222,000 employees in the nation of 8 million workers are on such shortened hours now and another 240,000 will be added soon, Kinitz said.

An estimated 162,000 East Germans are unemployed.

Poehl said East Germans have been frugal with their marks and have withdrawn about half of the 25 billion marks made available to them.

″There is no reason to fear that (monetary union) will lead to unacceptably high inflation levels,″ Poehl said.

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