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Taking Stock of the Federal Government’s Social Policy (May 17, 1974)

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I certainly do not need to emphasize once again the importance of the Industrial Relations Act and the upcoming co-determination as instruments for improving working conditions.

The central aspect of the action program for rehabilitation, the new Severely Disabled Act, went into force on May 1, and a bill to adjust rehabilitation benefits has been submitted to parliament.

Health protection measures are being consistently improved. Since the beginning of this year, everyone with health insurance is legally entitled to unlimited hospital care. In addition to the Hospital Funding Act, the new Federal Hospital and Nursing Charge Ordinance serves to improve hospital care.

The federal government will also systematically continue basic medical research and research on disease prevention, primarily of widespread diseases, especially cancer.

At the same time, we have introduced a modern family policy. Reform of the Marriage and Family Law is presently in closing debate in the Bundestag. The law on parent care expands the protection and rights of children.

Please allow me in this context to say a word about the reform of Section 218 of the Criminal Code, a reform over which all sides have been wrestling with grave earnestness in debate in the German Bundestag in recent weeks. I hope we can continue the debate in this spirit and with mutual respect for each others’ opinions. Everyone among us has faced serious questions of conscience through the decision we have made. Counseling and assistance – supported by society’s understanding for the women and families facing such conflict situations – and respect for the dignity of the woman and her sense of responsibility are important aspects of the effective protection of nascent life.

How serious we take this – and must take it – is apparent from the new offers by the health insurance carriers: counseling and family planning, benefits for working mothers if their children become ill, the offer for housekeeping care in difficult family situations, and thus the tendency as a whole to expand our social security, to provide more life security not only for individuals, but also families.

[ . . . ]

Source: Policy Statement by Helmut Schmidt, May 17, 1974. German Bundestag, Stenographische Berichte [Stenographic Reports] 7/100, pp. 6593C-6605D.

Translation: Allison Brown

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