In 2010 there were 11,092 abortions carried out in Switzerland. While the rate remains stable among adult women, teenagers are recording fewer terminations.
The statistics come at a time of renewed discussion about abortion, with Swiss voters set to have a say over whether the women in question themselves or health insurances should pay for the procedure.
In a statement on Tuesday, the Federal Statistics Office said that four per cent of abortions involved women living abroad. Of the 96 per cent of women living in Switzerland, there were 6.8 terminations per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44 – a rate that has remained stable since 2004.
Among 15-19 year olds, however, the rate fell to 4.5 in 2010 compared with 5.5 in 2007. Women aged 20-24 in Switzerland have the highest rate at 10.4 per 1,000. Foreigners account for 10.8 per 1,000, compared with an overall rate for Swiss women of 4.3 per 1,000.
Switzerland has a lower rate than its neighbours: France has 16.8 per 1,000 for women aged 15-44, Italy, 10.3 and Germany, 7.1. For teenagers, it is France 15.6, Italy 7.2 and Germany 5.5.
On Monday a non-party committee representing conservative Christians said it had gathered enough signatures for a vote on the issue of whether abortions should be financed by the women concerned or by standard health insurance. They argue that only if a pregnancy is the result of rape or the mother’s life is at risk should there be an exception.
Opponents of the initiative say they fear it could lead to an upsurge in botched abortions or more unwanted children being born. They say the consequences would cost society far more than the current system.
In Switzerland abortion was legalised in 2002 for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, bringing it into line with most other European countries. Before that the law had been one of the most restrictive on the continent.
swissinfo.ch and agencies