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No ban on artificial procreation

Childless couples are breathing a sigh of relief after the rejection in a nationwide vote of attempts to ban all forms of medically-assisted procreation. The proposal was rejected by a majority of cantons and by most of the Swiss electorate.

This content was published on March 12, 2000 - 08:02

Childless couples are breathing a sigh of relief after the rejection in a nationwide vote of attempts to ban all forms of medically-assisted procreation. The proposal was rejected by a majority of cantons and by most of the Swiss electorate.

The results show over two-thirds of voters rejected the proposal, which was brought to a vote by a people's initiative. If it had been successful, it would have prevented childless couples from turning to medical science to help them conceive.

The initiative was widely opposed across the political spectrum. The government argued that every couple has a right to have children, and that right extends to those who are infertile.

But supporters of the initiative argued that in-vitro fertilisation, or IVF treatment, violates the rights of unborn children and is therefore unacceptable. Their objections are based on the fact that it often takes several attempts to make a woman pregnant through IVF treatment, and in each case an embryo is used.

On the issue of sperm donation, supporters of the initiative say the identity of the child is undermined because the biological father is unknown.

Those in favour of medically-assisted procreation prefer to focus on the benefits. They point to statistics which show that 600,000 children worldwide have been born through IVF treatment.

Closer to home, they cite government figures which suggest that 10 per cent of couples in Switzerland are involuntarily childless, and have no hope of conceiving without IVF treatment or donated sperm.

They also point out that, under Swiss law, sperm banks must reveal the identity of a child's biological father at that child's request.

The issue was put to a national vote after its supporters collected the necessary 100,000 signatures to force a referendum.

swissinfo and agencies

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