Abortion Legalized in Switzerland

Friday, March 23rd 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

LUGANO, Switzerland (AP) After eight years of bitter debate, the Swiss Parliament voted Friday to legalize abortion.
The centrist Christian People's Party, a member of the four-party coalition government, immediately challenged the decision and announced it would collect the 100,000 signatures necessary under Swiss law to force a referendum. That would prevent the law from taking effect before the national vote, which is unlikely to be held for several years.
Abortion is technically illegal but widely practiced in Switzerland. In most cities, it is relatively easy for a woman to terminate her pregnancy in state-run hospitals or private clinics provided she has a signed letter from a second doctor stating that there are sound medical reasons.
A proposal to legalize abortion until the 14th week of pregnancy was first put forward by the Socialist Party eight years ago. During subsequent parliamentary debates, this was reduced to 12 weeks.
Closing its spring session, the National Council, Parliament's larger chamber, voted 107-69 to legalize abortion without requiring women first to seek neutral advice at a state-approved center. The other house, the Council of States, approved the proposal 22-20.
The Christian People's Party wanted to insert a clause requiring women to undergo independent counseling, but it was rejected.
Party President Adalbert Durrer said the new version of the proposed law ``offered totally insufficient protection of the unborn life.''
``The question of abortion should not be considered by the woman alone,'' he said.