San Marino to Decide Whether to Lift Ban on Abortions
Under current law, a woman faces three years in jail for having an abortion, while the doctor who conducts the procedure will be punished with a six-year prison term.
The legislation, which makes no exception even for rape, forced female citizens to terminate their pregnancies in Italy, where the procedure was legalised in 1978.
A "yes" vote will allow abortions to be carried out up to 12 weeks of pregnancy. Procedures beyond this term will be conducted only if a mother's life is in danger or if there are foetal abnormalities.
The referendum was preceded by heated campaigns by supporters and opponents of the measure. The ruling Christian Democratic Party, which has close ties to the Catholic Church, has called on its supporters to vote against the legalisation of abortion. Opponents of abortions argue that morning-after-pills are available at pharmacies.
"On many subjects, San Marino is behind. We need to become a more modern country", said Alfiero Vagnini, a 65-year-old cook.
"The population is very divided on the issue. And even in parliament, there are members of progressive parties who are against abortion, and MPs from the right who are in favour of abortion rights, notably in cases of rape or foetal abnormalities", said Manuel Ciavatta, deputy secretary of the ruling Christian Democratic Party.