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Anti-abortion initiative

Cabinet defends insurance coverage of abortions

Interior Minister Berset says Swiss abortion law has stood the test (Keystone)

Interior Minister Berset says Swiss abortion law has stood the test


The government has come out against a proposal by conservative Christian committee calling to suspend mandatory health insurance cover for terminating unwanted pregnancies.

Interior Minister Alain Berset said money must not be a decisive factor for or against an abortion.

He said the current law, legalising terminations within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, had worked effectively.

Berset said the estimated SFr8 million ($8.7 million) annual savings for insurance companies could not justify potential health hazards, legal and social consequences for pregnant women.

About 11,000 abortions were performed in Switzerland, according to latest official statistics – putting Switzerland among the countries with the lowest termination rate in Europe.

A group last year collected enough signatures to force a nationwide vote on the issue, arguing women wanting abortions should finance them themselves or take out additional insurance. They only want to grant exceptions if a mother’s life is at risk or when a pregnancy is the result of rape.

Parliament is still to discuss the initiative before a date is set for a public ballot.

In 2002 Swiss voters overwhelmingly approved legalising abortion. A woman needs to consult a doctor to have the operation paid for by basic health insurance.

Abortion in Switzerland

Abortion was legalised within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy following a nationwide ballot in 2002.

More than 70% of the electorate approved the constitutional amendment despite opposition by conservative religious opponents.

Three previous attempts to change the law in the 1970s and 1980s were thrown out.

Prior to 2002 abortion practices developed differently across the 26 cantons.

Basic health insurance, which covers abortion, is mandatory in Switzerland.

Payment is conditional on written consent by the pregnant woman and medical advice.

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