SWITZERLAND, July 20, 2011 ( – Following a successful petition drive by pro-life groups, the Swiss government will be forced to hold a national referendum on the public funding of abortion, after deciding in April to continue paying for the deadly procedures. Approximately 10,000 unborn children are killed through abortion every year in Switzerland.

The referendum is being forced by a coalition of political parties and religious groups that gathered well in excess of the 100,000 signatures required by the Swiss Constitution. The signatures were delivered on July 4 and are currently being verified by the Federal Chancellery.

“We are halfway there!” said national parliamentarian Peter Fohn at the moment the signatures were delivered. “But we are motivated and we have a good chance of winning!”

Elvira Bader, co-president of the committee promoting the initiative, noted that “to the contrary of what they predicted, the collection of signatures was easy.”

“No to electoral strategy, no to the slogans of our parties, we simply want fewer abortions in Switzerland,” Bader told the media during the campaign.

The country’s liberal establishment has responded with disdain and outrage to the initiative, which is entitled “The Financing of Abortion is a Private Matter.” Columnists are calling the measure “insidious,” “dangerous,” and “nauseating,” and expressing alarm at the level of public support for it.

“It’s a partial victory that the anti-abortion militants won yesterday, in registering their federal initiative,” wrote pro-abortion journalist Benito Perez for Switzerland’s Le Courrier newspaper. “Nine years after the plebiscite for decriminalization (72% voting yes), one could expect that there would not be 100,000 citizens to lead a rearguard action.  This disproof should act as a warning and a call to mobilization.”

Abortion was illegal in Switzerland without a written medical rationale from a doctor until 2002, when a plebiscite decriminalized the killing of the unborn during the first trimester of pregnancy. Later abortions still require a medical reason.

The plebiscite will follow the rejection of a similar measure by the nation’s parliament in April, in an 84-55 vote, with 16 abstentions. A similar attempt at the parliamentary level also failed in 2010.