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House of Representatives approves abortion law

Switzerland's House of Representatives has voted in favour of legalising abortion. After a highly charged debate, parliamentarians approved a proposal to allow abortion within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

The proposal, approved by the House on Thursday, would oblige women to submit a written request for an abortion, and to discuss their decision with a doctor.

The doctor in turn would be responsible for informing the patient of the medical risks and of alternatives, such as adoption. In the event that this procedure was not followed, it would be the doctor, rather than the woman, who was legally responsible.

The House's decision must now be approved by the Senate. However, even with Senate approval, the issue is almost certain to go to a nationwide vote.

Although abortion remains illegal in Switzerland, the law is often not rigorously applied and around 12,000 procedures are carried out every year.

The last public vote on legalising abortion took place in 1977, but was rejected.

swissinfo with agencies

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