by Steven Ertelt
June 16, 2006
Bern Switzerland (LifeNews.com) — A politician in Switzerland wants to end a program that allows women who refuse to have abortions to get discounts from at least five health insurance companies. The insurance companies provide the discounts through a partnership with a pro-life group there and it also includes discounts for women who do not undergo in-vitro fertilization.
Josef Zisyadis claims the program goes against the nation’s long-standing support for mandatory health insurance, which he says should be equal for everyone.
Members of Switzerland’s 40,000-strong ProLife group can receive the discounts form insurers Auxilia and Sansan. They can receive a discount of as much as 40 percent on their health insurance premiums if they sign a pledge saying they will not have an abortion.
Meanwhile, the pro-life group Swiss Aid for Mother and Child offers a similar deal to its members. The group told the Switzerland news agency SwissInfo that several thousand members have signed up for the discounts.
That angers Zisyadis, who has called on the government there to scrap "these dubious practices" even though they help lower insurance costs for some poor families. Last month, Switzerland leaders said they would not intervene because the Swiss citizens had a legal right to refuse an abortion.
Now, Zisyadis wants the Swiss parliament to vote on the issue and he hopes to have the legislative body vote on it by the Fall.
"I have a lot of support and I believe there is a good chance of getting a change in the law," the Communist Party member told SwissInfo.
Only 14 members of parliament have signed onto his bill to scrap the insurance program and the National Advisory Commission on Biomedical Ethics has lent its support.
"If people start saying that certain morally controversial treatments like abortion should not be part of basic insurance then the system of collective solidarity will break down," Christoph Rehmann:Sutter, president of the commission, told SwissInfo.
ProLife and SAMC defend their programs saying they have the legal right to operate them.
"We would like to save costs in our basic health insurance system and to give ethically minded people the opportunity to express their objection to the existing practice of automatic reimbursement for abortions," Gerd Weisensee, head of Pro Life, told SwissInfo.
"These abortions kill human beings. Our conscience doesn’t allow us to do so," she added.
SAMC said the criticism prompted three of the insurance companies to pull out of the program but a representative of the group says its will sign up replacements.
Dominik Müggler of SAMC told SwissInfo that Zisyadis’s campaign to stop the insurance program was "absurd" and that "Solidarity with financing the killing of unborn children is not something we can support."
In March 2001, the Swiss National Council voted to legalize abortion up to the 12 week of pregnancy. Abortions can also be done after 12 weeks into pregnancy for various health reasons.
In June 2002, Swiss voters went to the polls to vote on the abortion legalization as well as a pro-life proposal and some 72 percent of voters backed making abortion legal.
Prior to the vote, abortion in Switzerland has been regulated by the 1942 penal code. According to articles 118-121 of this code, abortion is a criminal offense unless it is done by a doctor to save the woman’s life or in order to avoid risk of severe and lasting damage to the woman’s health.
As in the United States, Switzerland has interpreted health to mean allowing an abortion for just about any reason. The pre-2002 abortion ban was largely ignored and no one doing an abortion was prosecuted.
Swiss voters rejected efforts in the 1970s and the 1980s to legalize abortion.