Germany Adopts Few Social Policies of East

Article excerpt

WHEN it came to German reunification, the prosperous west Germans did not consider much of anything in the decayed east worth adopting, except for women's rights.

After the Berlin Wall tumbled, hope sprang in the hearts of some West German women that they would soon have what East German women had: a far-reaching system of child care; more managerial positions in the work place; the right to decide whether to terminate a pregnancy.

They were disappointed.

"We thought, now we're going to pull even, and what happened? Exactly the opposite. The east Germans were pulled down to our level," says Birgit Rosenberg of the German Council of Women, an umbrella organization in Bonn for Germany's women's groups.

Only through a new law on abortion have women in the western part of the country been influenced by the eastern part, and even this change is uncertain. After much debate, the Bundestag passed a greatly liberalized abortion law last summer. It tended toward the East German model, which allowed women abortion on demand. In the West, abortion was possible only if a woman met certain social, medical, or psychological criteria certified by a doctor. …