Swiss voters are to have their say on whether women wanting abortions should finance them themselves rather than get them paid for through their standard health insurance.
A non-party committee representing conservative Christians announced on Monday that it had gathered enough signatures to call a nationwide vote on the issue.
“People have no idea of all the things that are paid for by the health insurance,” parliamentarian Peter Föhn of the rightwing People’s Party told journalists in Bern. For him it is clear that no one should be forced to finance someone else’s abortion.
“Abortions are not an illness,” he said.
Another parliamentarian, Elvira Bader of the centre-right Christian Democrats, said supporters hoped that if accepted, the move would cut the number of abortions.
According to Bader, public financing of abortions encourages “irresponsible sexual activity”. She expected that the number of abortions performed would drop by about 500 a year.
The supporters of the initiative say women who consider the possibility of an abortion should take out additional insurance. Only where pregnancy is the result of rape, or where the mother’s life is at risk, should it be paid for by the standard insurance.
Opponents of the initiative said on Monday they feared that it could lead to an upsurge in botched abortions and more unwanted children being born. They say the consequences would cost society far more than the current system.
About 10,000 abortions are performed every year in Switzerland.
swissinfo.ch and agencies