San Marino votes to legalise abortion in referendum

Published : September 27, 2021 18:51 IST
The tiny, predominantly Catholic San Marino has voted to allow abortion by an overwhelming margin.

San Marino on September 26 voted overwhelmingly to legalize abortion, overturning a law dating back to 1865. One of the world's oldest republics, the microstate of San Marino had been one of the European states that still criminalized abortion. Lawmakers in San Marino must now draft the legislation to legalize the procedure.

Landslide win for 'Yes' vote

Around 77 per cent of voters were in favor, though turnout for the vote was only 41 per cent in the tiny country. More than 35,000 voters, a third of them living abroad, were eligible to vote in the referendum. The vote calls to make abortion legal in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, or beyond if the woman's health is at risk, officials told public broadcaster San Marino RTV.

Catholic influence

With its close ties to the Catholic Church, the ruling Christian Democratic Party posed the strongest opposition to decriminalizing abortion. The party called for a "No" vote to "defend the right to life."

The influence of the Catholic Church remains strong in San Marino. Last week, Pope Francis reiterated his firm position that abortion is "murder." Under San Marino's law, abortion has carried a penalty of up to three years in prison for the woman and six years for the doctor who conducts the procedure. But despite the nominal total ban, nobody has ever been convicted.

Women in San Marino who choose to get the procedure have typically crossed into Italy, where abortion has been legal since 1978. "It's unacceptable to view as criminals women who are forced to have abortions," said Francesca Nicolini, a 60-year-old doctor and member of the Women's Union that had called for the referendum.

fb/msh (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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