ZURICH, July 4, 2011 ( – Swiss pro-life groups have filed a petition with the Federal Chancellery today calling for a ballot initiative to defund abortion. The petition was signed by over 111,000 supporters.

Financing abortions through compulsory national health insurance premiums “makes us co-responsible for an act that we condemn,” committee co-chair Valerie Kasteler told reporters today.

The coalition of pro-life groups is not seeking to ban abortion, which was decriminalized in 2002, but says that funding the destruction of the unborn should at the very least be a private matter that is not covered by basic health insurance.

Kasteler said that individuals must take responsibility for their actions and can take out supplemental insurance or pay the costs of an abortion themselves rather than foisting the cost on taxpayers. She added that the implementation of the initiative would save about 20 million francs per year.

“If we know we will have to pay for abortion, we will avoid getting ourselves into that circumstance,” said National Councillor Elvira Bader (PDC / SO), whose party supports the initiative.

Bader noted a U.S. study that indicated some 500 abortions per year, out of a total of approximately 10,000, could be prevented in Switzerland if health insurance funding of the deadly procedure was eliminated.

Remarking that, like pregnancy, “abortion is not a disease,” Justice Peter Foehn, one of the chief proponents of the initiative, said, “insurance needs to protect the health and not the destruction of life.”

The text of the pro-life initiative requires that abortion be removed altogether from the benefits of basic health insurance, except in cases of rape or danger to the life of the mother.

Current Swiss law allows for abortion within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. However, the mother must show that the pregnancy is causing her “serious distress,” and doctors must give her information on the physical and mental effects of abortion, as well as information on adoption.

After twelve weeks, abortion is permitted if, in the doctor’s opinion, continuation of the pregnancy would result in serious physical harm or “profound distress” to the mother.