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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Abortion in Switzerland is legal during the first trimester, upon condition of counseling, for women who state that they are in distress. It is also legal with medical indications – threat of severe physical or psychological damage to the woman – at any later time. [1]

Persons performing illegal abortions are subject to payment of a monetary penalty or imprisonment of up to five years. A woman who procures an illegal abortion is subject to a payment of a monetary penalty or imprisonment of up until three years.[2]


Legal history

Up until 2002, abortion was – technically – legally available in Switzerland only with restrictive medical indications. A constitutional amendment to legalise abortion in the first trimester was narrowly defeated in a popular referendum in 1977. However, in 1978 and 1985, initiatives for constitutional amendments aiming at making abortion harder to obtain were also defeated by a wide margin at the ballot box.

The criminal prohibition on nonindicated abortions essentially ceased to be enforced towards the end of the 20th century. Abortions could be easily obtained through the cooperation of physicians, especially in the more urban cantons. In 1995, the Swiss Federal Assembly enacted an amendment to the penal code providing for the first-trimester-rule as outlined above.

Conservative parties and interest groups collected the 50,000 voters' signatures required to force a popular referendum on the amendment. The vote was held on 2 June 2002, with 72.2% of Swiss voters supporting the change in law.[3]

Legal abortions are now covered by the mandatory health care insurance scheme. Insured women cannot opt out from this coverage.[4]


In 2005, 15% of all pregnancies in Switzerland were terminated by abortion. The abortion rate was 7 out of 1,000 women resident in the country, or 6 out of 1,000 women aged 15 to 19. 95% of abortions took place within the first trimester, and 50% of the women who had an abortion were aliens. [5]

The Swiss abortion rate dropped from around 12 per thousand in the 1970s, when data first became available, to around 8 in the 1990s. It has remained stable at around 7 to 8 during the 2000s.[6]

See also


  • See, in general, the report of the Judicial Committee of the National Council on the Parliamentary Initiative Haering-Binder, docket no. 93.434, BBl/FF 1998 3005.
  1. ^ Swiss Penal Code , SR/RS 311.0 (E·D·F·I), art. 119 (E·D·F·I)
  2. ^ Swiss Penal Code , SR/RS 311.0 (E·D·F·I), art. 118 (E·D·F·I)
  3. ^ Full vote results by canton:
  4. ^ See the Federal Council's reply to the parliamentary motion 06.3060 Zisyadis
  5. ^ (German) Swiss Federal Statistical Office, press release of 27 March 2007
  6. ^ Wm. Robert Johnston. Historical abortion statistics, Switzerland. Accessed March 28, 2007.

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