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Obituary Swiss right-to-abortion advocate dead at 78

Activist and politician: Anne-Marie Rey, pictured in Bern in 1998


Bernese activist Anne-Marie Rey has died at the age of 78. On behalf of other women, she spent decades fighting to legalise abortion in Switzerland. 

She died of acute heart failure, her family announced on Tuesday. From 1987 to 1995, she represented the leftwing Social Democratic Party in Bern’s cantonal parliament. Rey had been living in Zollikofen near the Swiss capital, Bern. 

Rey herself had an abortion about 50 years ago, when the procedure was illegal in Switzerland. 

“My contraception had failed, and I absolutely didn’t want to have a child at that point in my life. I was about six weeks’ pregnant,” Rey remembered recently in an interview with when Switzerland was voting on whether abortions should continue to be covered by health insurance. 

“I was never sorry about it, and I never had any problems in connection with it – neither physical nor psychological. I was very happy to be able to have this abortion,” she said. After she completed her training as a dance instructor, Rey and her husband later had three children. 

Rey, who wrote a book about her experiences, also maintained a websiteexternal link publishing the stories of other women who have faced the difficult decision of whether to terminate. Up until the 1980s, women were convicted in Switzerland following illegal abortions. 

In 2002, Switzerland voted to legalise abortion – permitting it within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Prior to that, it was only allowed if the woman’s health was at risk. In 2014, Swiss voters rejected an initiative from religious conservatives to drop abortions from basic health insurance. and agencies

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