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Christian Democrats reject changes to abortion law

Delegates to the Christian Democrats' meeting reaffirm their support of party executive's line

(Keystone)

Switzerland's Christian Democrats have overwhelmingly rejected any change to the abortion laws, ahead of a vote on the issue on June 2.

Delegates to the centre-right party's meeting in Gerlafingen, canton Solothurn, voted by 201 to 73 against a government-backed initiative to legalise abortion. They also rejected the "For Mother and Child" initiative, which calls for a strict ban on abortion, except in extreme circumstances, by 259 votes to 4.

The two votes are in line with party executive's stance but contrary to the women's section of the party, which last week came out in favour of allowing termination of pregnancy within the first three months.

After the decision, the president of the party, Philipp Stähelin, gave his backing to the justice minister, Ruth Metzler, who had come in for criticism from some delegates for supporting the government initiative.

Abortion remains illegal in Switzerland under a 1942 law, unless the pregnancy puts the mother's life in danger. However, loopholes in the legislation mean that women can usually have a termination performed if they have approval from a doctor. Some 13,000 abortions are carried out each year.

Under the government proposals, women would be entitled to have an abortion within 12 weeks of conception. They would still have to consult a doctor, but the decision would ultimately be theirs.

Poll

The conference decision comes a day after a poll showed that a majority of Swiss are in favour of legalising abortion.
The poll, commissioned by the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation - swissinfo's parent company - showed that 64 per cent of voters intend to cast their ballots in favour of the government-backed initiative.

Some 23 per cent of the 1,255 people polled said they would vote against with 13 per cent undecided. The survey was conducted by the GIS Research Institute between April 10 and 22.


swissinfo with agencies

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