Termination of Pregnancy/Abortion in Switzerland

Information on who to contact and how to proceed in the event of an unwanted pregnancy...

Termination of pregnancy (IVG) is legal in Switzerland up to twelve weeks after the first day of the last period.

Arranging a Termination

A woman with a pregnancy that has advanced less than twelve weeks may complete a form issued by her canton asking for the termination of a pregnancy.

Each canton has to provide information containing a list of consultation centres and a list of organisations that may be able to help her. She will also be informed about the possibility of giving the child up for adoption at birth.

After twelve weeks, a woman may have an abortion if the doctor believes her "physical integrity" will be threatened or she will face "profound distress" should the pregnancy be allowed to continue to term. The danger to the woman must be shown to increase as the pregnancy advances.

A woman under the age of 16 must have an obligatory consultation with a specialist youth counsellor and sign a form before she can terminate her pregnancy. Swiss law does not require parental consent for minors.

Cantons have to designate hospitals and medical practices which meet set criteria for offering thorough counselling and carrying out terminations.

The Doctor

An abortion must be performed by a physician, with the woman's written consent. Swiss law does not set a time-limit for therapeutic abortion, nor does it require compulsory counselling or a waiting period before an abortion can be performed.

In some cantons, abortions are performed by physicians (both gynaecologists and general practitioners) in their private offices or in private clinics under local anaesthetic and on an out-patient basis while in other cantons they are usually performed in public hospitals or private clinics.

The operating doctor is obliged to:

  • consult personally with the woman prior to the abortion
  • advise her on the different options available
  • inform her of the medical risks

After the physician has her written consent he must provide the woman with the following:

  • a list of consultation centres who offer their services free of charge
  • a list of associations and organisations able to give her advice or financial help
  • information on the possibilities of having the baby adopted

Every abortion carried out must be declared to the Public Health Authorities for statistical reasons.

A pregnant woman wanting an abortion should contact her gynaecologist, family planning centre or local hospital.

Further Information