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After the abortion verdict in the USA – does the US decision influence the Swiss abortion debate? – Culture


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There are currently two initiatives calling for the Swiss abortion law to be tightened. There are fears that the US decision could influence the discussion in this country. A USA expert classifies.

For almost 50 years, the liberal «Roe v. Wade’ abortion law. The Supreme Court overturned it last Friday. This has already led to a ban on abortions in conservative states – but also to many protests.

Cultural scientist and USA expert Claudia Brühwiler knows how the verdict in the USA could affect the Swiss abortion debate.


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The political scientist Claudia Brühwiler is Lecturer in American Studies at the University of St. Gallen.

SRF: How much will the tightening of the abortion law in the USA fuel the abortion debate in Switzerland?

Claudia Brühwiler: The verdict in the USA will hardly fuel the debate in Switzerland because we no longer have any in this sense in this country. When it comes to the abortion debate, we are on a different timeline than the United States. You have to keep in mind: In 1973 the Supreme Court ruled “Roe v. Wade», thus short-circuiting the abortion debate at the level of the member states of the USA.

What is Roe v. Calf”?


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The Supreme Court ruled in 1973 that a woman may terminate her pregnancy until the fetus is viable. Beyond that point, the state could ban abortions. The states defined when a fetus is viable. Subsequent abortions had to be allowed if they were necessary to preserve the woman’s health or life.

This decision was considered a precedent. From this, the US case law on abortion was derived to this day.

«Roe v. Wade” is the name of the decision because the then 22-year-old plaintiff was named Jane Roe in the files to protect her anonymity. The opponent for the state of Texas was the then District Attorney of Dallas, Henry Wade.

There is nothing to indicate that the decision would be approved in the USA.

In Switzerland, we voted on the deadline for the first time in 1977. At that time she was narrowly rejected. Then a political debate continued, which was decided in 2002 with the adoption of the regulation. This decision is quite stable. Attempts to privatize abortion financing through the initiative route have failed.

Nevertheless, there are currently two initiatives in Switzerland that call for the abortion law to be tightened. One of them is supported by National Councilor Yvette Estermann, among others. Could these initiatives gain momentum after the judgement?

The question is, how much wind would it take there? The decision of 2002 for the regulation of deadlines was unequivocal. If you get more than 70 percent of the votes, you can almost speak of a social consensus. Accordingly, tightening initiatives have a hard time.

We see the reaction on social media and in the US media landscape: there is no indication that the decision would be approved in the US. Also: «Roe v. Wade’ was a very liberal solution. Abortions would have been possible until the fetus was viable. The Swiss legislation with 12 weeks as the limit is much more restrictive.

The Swiss regulation is therefore not being shaken in any direction. Is there a big political consensus?

In my opinion, the result of the 2002 vote shows this very well. If we now look at this in the light of the debates about equality and the role of women and see how we have developed there, then this consensus is probably even stronger.

The interview was conducted by Igor Basic.

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