Abortion rights are a hot political topic in the US and women’s access to them has been significantly reduced recently. Some political groups have tried to reduce access to abortion in Switzerland. However, their attempts have fallen flat. Why? Political scientist Cloé Jans at gfs.bern, a political research organisation, shared her views with SRF.
In 2021, two referenda related to abortion were launched by politicians from the Swiss People’s Party (UDC/SVP). One aimed to introduce a compulsory delay of one day before any abortion procedure and the other aimed to reduce the abortion time window. However, both initiatives failed to garner the minimum 100,000 signatures required to put the question to the people in a popular vote.
In 2014, there was a vote to largely exclude abortion from basic health insurance coverage. This vote way rejected by nearly 70% of voters. Even members of the Swiss People’s Party (UDC/SVP), the party behind the initiative were divided on the question.
According to Jans, there are several reasons. The first is the current political trend towards the strengthening of women’s rights. The recent debate and revision of the legal definition of rape runs counter to anti-abortion initiatives.
In Switzerland, conservative Christian politics are simply not strong enough, says Jans. Conservative Christianity plays a very small role in Swiss politics. The conservative Christian community in Switzerland is not connected to right-wing politics in the same way as it is in the US. Religion simply plays only a minor role is Swiss politics, according to Jans.
Could there be a conservative Christian counter movement in Switzerland in the near future?
There are such movements, according to the political scientist. But they are more about overarching identity. In 2022, more young people in Switzerland felt more attached to the climate movement than religion. Jans does not expect this to change in the near future.
SRF article (in German)