gms | German Medical Science

6th International Conference of the German Society of Midwifery Science (DGHWi)

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Hebammenwissenschaft e. V.

28.07. - 29.07.2022, Winterthur, Schweiz

Abortion in Switzerland: psychosocial factors, cantonal indicators and potential preventive measures

Meeting Abstract

German Association of Midwifery Science. 6th International Conference of the German Association of Midwifery Science (DGHWi). Winterthur, Schweiz, 28.-29.07.2022. Düsseldorf: German Medical Science GMS Publishing House; 2022. Doc22dghwiV02

doi: 10.3205/22dghwi03, urn:nbn:de:0183-22dghwi030

This is the English version of the article.
The German version can be found at:

Published: July 28, 2022

© 2022 Grand-Guillaume-Perrenoud et al.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License. See license information at



Background: Approximately 11,000 abortions have taken place in Switzerland yearly since 2002. Abortions are directly related to unplanned pregnancies (UP), with an international study reporting that UP led to an abortion in half of all cases. Lack of contraception, medication use, previous termination of pregnancy, and current treatment for a mental disorder were identified as factors associated with UP. Intimate partner violence has also been linked to the desire to terminate a pregnancy. Research indicates that women who terminate their pregnancy are often unmarried and socially disadvantaged. Psychosocial factors can contribute significantly to explaining non-medically indicated abortions.

Aim/Research question: This study describes the characteristics of women in Switzerland who have had an abortion. In a second step, we examine which socio-demographic and psychosocial characteristics occur significantly frequently in this group. Finally, we describe the incidence and rate of abortion in Switzerland by canton and analyze associations to cantonal social and economic indicators.

Methods: We conducted a secondary data analysis of abortion data from Switzerland, collected by the Swiss Federal Office of Statistics. Data from 2007–2018 were analyzed. All abortions carried out in Switzerland were recorded. Depending on canton, data were collected using a short form with fewer variables or comprehensive form containing psychosocial variables. Descriptive analyses are conducted with the full data set to describe the characteristics of women and the incidence of abortion in the cantons. Due to missing variables, inductive statistical analyses are carried out only using data from the cantons using the detailed reporting form. We conducted chi-square, multiple linear and multiple logistic regression analyses to examine the differences between groups and the associations between variables, respectively.

Results: In the Swiss data from 2007–2018, 127,173 abortions were recorded. The nationality was not known for most women (56.8%), while Swiss nationals accounted for 21.4% and foreign nationals 21.8% of the sample. Marital status was unknown for most women (63.9%), 20.6% were single, 11.4% were married, and 4.2% were separated, divorce or widowed. Among the reasons given for abortion, significantly more foreign than Swiss women reported having an unplanned pregnancy (χ2=116.4, df=1, p<0.001). More Swiss than foreign women reported being overwhelmed by their situation (χ2=7.7, df=1, p<0.01) or having problems with their partner (χ2=32.2, df=1, p<0.001). Of the contraceptive methods used, the majority reported using no method (39.7%), followed by condoms (27.7%), the pill (15.3%) and coitus interruptus (5.3%).

Relevancy: After several years of decline, the abortion rate in Switzerland has been rising since 2017. Unplanned pregnancy and certain socio-demographic and psychosocial characteristics are more frequent in women who terminate their pregnancy. Our findings provide important information for abortion prevention.

Recommendations/Conclusion: Unplanned pregnancies often lead to an abortion and often affect single, unmarried women and women with social disadvantage. The more frequent use of contraceptives in these groups can help to reduce unplanned pregnancies and abortions.

Ethics and conflicts of interest: A vote on ethics was not necessary. The research was financed by own resources. There are no conflicts of interest.