Swiss scientists against sex-selective abortion
A national science commission is backing a government motion to impose stricter controls to prevent parents in Switzerland aborting an unborn child due to its gender.
Swiss law already bans sex-selective abortions but in practice the rule can often be overcome, reports news agency ATS.
Many parents find out the child’s gender during ultrasounds tests in the 9th week of pregnancy, before the legal 12 week cut off for abortions.
One solution would be to prevent doctors and hospitals from revealing the gender of the foetus unless there is a medical reason why they should do so.
But while both the commission and the government wish to see the law strengthened, they acknowledge the difficulties of doing so, writes ATS.
Prenatal tests are often carried out in foreign laboratories which cannot be subjected to Swiss law.
Furthermore, parents may soon be able to obtain home kits so they can test for gender themselves.
Abortion on request has been legal in Switzerland only since 2002, when a referendum approved the right to a termination up to the end of the first trimester, at 12 weeks, with the costs covered by Swiss health insurance.
Before 2002 abortions were only granted if a medical professional deemed it was necessary for mental health reasons.
Switzerland has a relatively low abortion rate, of around 6 percent.
In February this year Swiss voters rejected a proposal to stop abortions being covered under basic medical insurance.
Abortion statistics in Switzerland (source: Federal Statistics Office):