Voters in Switzerland approved the decriminalization of abortion in a pivotal decision that Swiss Justice Minister Ruth Metzler called a “historic victory for women.” In an effort to challenge a law passed by Swiss lawmakers last year, an anti-abortion coalition brought a referendum before voters Sunday. In a country where 44.1 percent of the population is Catholic – the largest religion in Switzerland – 70 percent of voters approved a proposal to back the law, which calls for the legalization of abortion carried out up to 12 weeks into pregnancy, while 80 percent of voters rejected a second proposal to ban abortion completely. The law will now go into effect October 1, despite criticism from the Roman Catholic Swiss Bishops’ Conference.
Under the current law that dates from 1942, doctors who carry out abortions in Switzerland could face five years in prison, and women receiving abortion services could be sentenced to three years. Abortion, however, is allowed if a continued pregnancy would harm a woman’s physical or mental health. Approximately 13,000 women have abortions every year in regular clinics and though only one woman has been convicted for an abortion-related offense since 1988, five physicians have been convicted in the past nine years for ignoring abortion rules, according to the Associated Press.
In other parts of Europe, Britain, Spain and the Netherlands have the most liberal abortion laws allowing termination to take place up to 22 weeks into the pregnancy, France allows abortion up to 12 weeks, but Italy, Greece, Denmark and Norway sanction a 10-week deadline, according to statistics found at CNN.com. Meanwhile, Portugal, Ireland and Malta have the strictest laws where abortion is virtually banned.
Media Resources: CNN.com, 6/3/02, Associated Press, 6/3/02, New York Times, 6/4/02
12/11/2013 Human Rights Day Celebrated Around The World - Yesterday marked International Human Rights Day, a day to celebrate human rights advances and to assess the challenges that lie ahead in protecting them.
"The fundamentals for protecting and promoting human rights are largely in place: these include a strong and growing body of international human rights law and standards, as well as institutions to interpret the laws, monitor compliance and apply them to new and emerging human rights issues," said United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay in a statement. . . .
12/11/2013 UConn Under Federal Investigation For Mishandling Sexual Assault Cases - The US Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) informed the University of Connecticut on Monday that it will investigate the school for allegedly mishandling sexual assault cases and violating Title IX, the federal law that requires all recipients of federal financial assistance for education programs and activities to prohibit sex discrimination and sexual harassment [PDF].
The investigation was sparked after seven women filed a formal complaint in October alleging that UConn had failed to protect them from sexual assault and exposed them to a sexually hostile environment.One woman says her attacker was expelled from campus but later readmitted without her knowledge. . . .
12/11/2013 Massachusetts Democrat Katherine Clark Wins Congressional Seat - Democrat Katherine Clark will become the fifth woman to represent Massachusetts in the US House Tuesday, after easily defeating three opponents in a special election.
"Six years ago, there wasn't a single woman representing Massachusetts in Congress," said Niki Tsongas, the only other woman representing Massachusetts in the House. . . .