Swiss vote for legal abortion
Press release from SVSS
June 04, 2002
At last women in Switzerland obtain the right to decide for
themselves whether or not to have an abortion.
On June 2nd, with a spectacular
proportion of 72.2 percent ayes, Swiss voters have accepted
abortion on request of the woman within the first 12 weeks
of pregnancy. Simultaneously a fundamentalist initiative which
asked for a complete ban of abortion was on the ballot. It
was rejected with 81.7 percent of the votes.
This is a great victory for
women in Switzerland who have been fighting for the right
to choose for over 30 years. The new legislation adopted by
the Swiss electorate allows abortion within the first 12 weeks
of pregnancy, at the written request of the woman who finds
herself in a situation of distress. The decision lies with
the woman. Before the abortion is done, the doctor has to
inform and counsel the woman and give her the addresses of
specialized counselling centers where she can receive more
information and help. Young women under the age of 16 have
to visit a counselling center before an abortion can be performed.
The costs of the abortion will be covered by health insurance.
The Swiss government will
decide on the date when the revised articles of the penal
code will take force, which will not be before 1st of January
2003 though. The legislation was adopted by Parliament in
March 2001 already, but had to be put on the ballot because
fundamentalist opponents succeeded in collecting enough signatures
for a referendum to be hold.
Up to now, the Swiss abortion
legislation in force since 1942 is one of the most restrictive
ones in Europe, allowing abortion only in case of a danger
to the woman's life or health. The danger has to be certified
by the expert advice of a second doctor. Abortion on request
was first proposed by a people's initiative in 1971, but was
rejected in a referendum in 1977. Since then the practice
has become ever more liberal though, and since the 1990s any
woman was in fact able to get a legal abortion, may be not
always in the canton where she lived, but not too far away.
Nevertheless this situation was intolerable, leaving women
at the mercy of doctors.
The struggle for abortion
rights in Switzerland was long and hard. And the success of
this weekend is the result of a long and intensive effort
of informing and educating the public, of lobbying and of
coalition building. During the last two years of campaigning,
fundamentalist groups raised many million Swiss francs for
their misleading propaganda, whereas the pro choice side only
disposed of one tenth of their budget. But the media largely
trusted the reliable information given to them regularly during
the last 10 years by pro choice organisations. Reason has
triumphed over emotions and horror stories.
Swiss Union for Decriminalizing Abortion
Schweiz Vereinigung für Straflosigkeit des Schwangerschaftsabbruchs
Union suisse pour décriminaliser l'avortement
P.O. Box, 3052 Zollikofen
Tel. 031 911 57 94 / Fax 031 911 69 94