San Marino votes to legalise abortion in historic referendum

San Marino votes to legalise abortion in historic referendum
Some 77% voted to legalise abortion up to 12 weeks and beyond in the case of the mother’s life being in danger

San Marino has voted to legalise abortion in a historic referendum overturning a law dating back to 1865.

The northern Italian enclave, with a population of some 33,000 people, previously banned abortion with women who ended their pregnancies risking three years’ in prison.

The sentence was twice as long for those who carried out abortions.

The referendum saw voters decide whether to allow abortion up to 12 weeks of pregnancy and afterwards only in the case of the mother’s life being in danger or of grave malformation of the foetus.

Despite a low turnout of 41 percent of eligible voters, the overwhelming majority (77.3 percent) voted to change the 150-years-old law.

Prior to the referendum, women in San Marino who wanted to terminate their pregnancies would pay for private treatment in Italy, costing them around 1,500 euros.

Proponents of the referendum argued this put an undue financial burden on them and that the law penalised women who got pregnant as a result of rape.

The referendum was set for Sunday after some 3,000 Sammarinesi, as its citizens are called, signed a petition drive. About 65 percent of signatories were women, said Karen Pruccoli, a San Marino entrepreneur who spearheaded the drive.

“We had asked the political sphere to make a law” legalizing abortion, Ms Pruccoli said in a telephone interview Thursday.

“When we realised that the political sphere didn’t want to enact a law, we decided to have the referendum.”

The Yes campaign built on the momentum of other European territories legalising abortion in recent years.

In June, Gibraltar, a British Overseas Territory off the coast of Spain, voted to ease draconian abortion restrictions. Ireland also legalised abortion in a 2018 referendum.

However, in Poland and Texas, abortion laws have been tightened and countries like Malta, and the micro-states of Andorra and Vatican City, another Italian enclave, still ban abortion.

Additional reporting by AP

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