The heavily Catholic republic of San Marino, a tiny microstate of 33,000 people located in northern Italy, recently voted to legalize abortion through 12 weeks gestation. A referendum was held after 3,000 citizens, or nearly 10% of the populace, signed a petition demanding that the current San Marino abortion law, which dates back to 1865, be overturned. While results of the referendum clearly supported legalizing abortion, with 77% of votes cast in favor, a Reuters article noted that only 41% of eligible voters cast a ballot.
At present, San Marino law calls for a six year prison sentence for abortionists, and a three year prison sentence for women who illegally procure an abortion. Consequently, San Marino women have historically traveled to Italy for abortions. Since the referendum passed, San Marino’s government will now draft a bill to formally legalize abortion.
According to the terms of the referendum, women will be able to obtain an abortion for any reason up through 12 weeks gestation, and afterwards for “life of the mother” cases or in cases of fetal anomaly.
READ: Pro-life country of Malta fights attempts to decriminalize abortion
As documented by Live Action in its Baby Olivia video, by 12 weeks gestation a preborn baby can “suck her thumb, swallow, touch her face, sigh, stretch, and even grasp objects. Her face, hands, and feet can sense light touch. Her early vocal cords have formed, paving the way for her first cry outside the womb.”
A member of the “Noi Ci Siamo” campaign urging San Marino citizens to vote ‘yes’ on the referendum explained the reason for their vote, saying, “We supported this for the simple reason that it seemed right that women have a choice and aren’t forced to go somewhere else, but to have the services on our own territory.”
A female citizen casting her ‘yes’ vote similarly framed the issue as a matter of the government giving women their due, claiming that San Marino “must provide its citizens this opportunity.” But legalizing abortion is not merely governmental acknowledgement of a right as its advocates claim. Rather, it always represents a failure of the legal system, which is intended to protect the weak from being trampled, destroyed, or discarded by the strong or those in power.
In contrast, San Marino pediatrician Dr. Maria Prassede Venturini, a leader in the “Welcome Life” campaign opposing the law change, insisted that a healthy culture must value “two main protagonists: the mother and the child.” Venturini’s words echo the pro-life movement’s long-standing advocacy for the rights and wellbeing of both mothers and their preborn children to be valued and safeguarded.
Up until the vote, San Marino was one of a very few European holdouts where abortion remained illegal. Now, only the island nation of Malta as well as the microstates Vatican City, Andorra, and Lichtenstein, ban abortion. In 2018, Ireland, also a heavily Catholic nation, legalized abortion after a lengthy, controversial campaign by abortion advocates. As Live Action News reported, in the year following legalization, abortions surged by nearly 150%. In good news, a Polish law went into effect in January of 2021 banning discriminatory abortions performed solely because of a prenatal diagnosis.
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