Legal situation in Switzerland

An unplanned pregnancy can seriously irritate affected women and cause many fears. This raises many questions. This guide lists the addresses and telephone numbers of counselling and specialized centers in the Canton of Zurich.

A: Official pregnancy advice centers
A.1. with medical background (p.3)
A.2. with psychiatric / psychotherapeutic background,
Offers for young people and their relatives (p.4)
B: Counselling centers in the districts (S.5)
C: Counselling center for pregnant women and mothers in need (p.7)
D: Counselling center for questions concerning adoption (p.7)
E: Counselling centers for foreign-language women (p.7)

Pregnant women under the age of 16 are required to consult a counselling center specialized in young people under the age of 16 before talking to their female doctor. The listed centers are marked with an asterisk (*) in the guide. After the interview, you will receive a confirmation that the interview has taken place. Only with this confirmation may an abortion be carried out.

Online address directory «Social help from A-Z» Infostelle, ZHAW Social Work

This address directory is an offer of the “Infostelle, ZHAW Soziale Arbeit” and contains about 3000 entries of public, private and church organizations in the Canton of Zurich that offer social, health, legal, financial and educational services on a professional basis:

Contact: Information Office, ZHAW Social Work, Pfingstweidstrasse 96, Postfach 707, 8037 Zurich. Universities of Social Work Zurich: Phone +41 (0)58 934 86 77, E-Mail

What is the penalty for an abortion? Is a woman liable to prosecution if she aborts a pregnancy herself?

No! However, it is not advisable and can be dangerous not to seek medical attention.
The Swiss Penal Code deals with abortion in the chapter “Offences against life and body”. In principle, acts against one’s own life and body are not punishable in Switzerland, and before the revision of Articles 118-120 of the Swiss Penal Code, this very aspect was so offensive that abortion was considered punishable as an act of a woman against her own body. The fact that women can terminate a pregnancy themselves and without outside help is not covered by the law and is therefore not a criminal offence. This law only aims to make pregnant women subject to special protection by making abortion a criminal offence.
Before giving birth, Swiss law perceives the embryo / fetus as part of the woman’s body. That changes with the beginning of the birth: Article 116 StGB still states: If a mother kills her child while giving birth or as long as she is under the influence of the birth process, she will be punished with a custodial sentence of up to three years or a fine. The law takes account of the woman’s special existential situation.
Article 118 of the Criminal Code defines abortion as a punishable offence: Anyone who aborts a pregnancy with the consent of the pregnant woman or encourages or helps a pregnant woman to abort the pregnancy without fulfilling the requirements of Article 119. The wording is always formulated as an act against the woman / the physical integrity of the woman.

Art. 119 StGB defines when abortion can take place without punishment. However, as an act against one’s own body is not considered punishable, Article 119 of the Criminal Code does not apply if a woman carries out an abortion herself. It is not an abortion in the sense of the law.

Confidentiality: Is anyone informed about the treatment? Now I have done a test and am pregnant. However, this is something that must not happen. Is it possible to have an abortion without anyone knowing? Don't you have to report my name?

Yes, I can do a treatment without anyone knowing. Your name will not be mentioned, only an anonymous report about the treatment will be sent to the cantonal doctor. If you do not want it, the health insurance company does not receive any information either. We will not send the health insurance company an invoice without your consent. If relatives or anyone else inquires with us, we will only inform them about your treatment with your express permission. Aftercare doctors receive the necessary information because we usually assume that they have only heard from you that you have been treated by us. In case of doubt, we refuse to provide the information.

How can I have an abortion without my parents or health insurance company knowing about it? Can I have an abortion without my parents knowing (I am 16 years old)? About the cost of an abortion: Is it possible to pay for the abortion in cash in your medical office without the health insurance company paying for anything?

Yes, both questions can be answered with Yes. If you are 16 years old, the parents do not have to know anything about it and even before 16 years we can find legal ways in Switzerland if it is not possible to inform the parents.

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