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Associated Press

San Marino voters decide whether to decriminalize abortion

Voters in the tiny republic of San Marino are voting on whether to decriminalize abortion

ROME (AP) - Voters in San Marino, a tiny republic surrounded by Italy, voted Sunday whether to decriminalize abortion, with the Roman Catholic Church firmly opposed and the “yes” camp hoping to make the procedure legal in some circumstances.

The ballot proposal calls for abortion to be made legal in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy and beyond then if the woman's life is in danger or if her physical or psychological health are at risk because of fetal anomalies or malformations.

Women in San Marino seeking an abortion usually go to neighboring Italy, a similarly Catholic country which legalized the procedure in 1978. But proponents of the referendum say that puts an undue financial burden on them and penalizes women who have been raped.

Opponents argue that in San Marino even minors can already receive free contraception at pharmacies, including the so-called morning-after pill.

The referendum was set after around 3,000 people signed a petition drive to overturn the microstate's abortion law, which dates from 1865. If “Yes” votes prevail, San Marino's Parliament will need to legalize the procedure.

Results were expected late Sunday.

San Marino is one of the world's oldest republics and has a population of about 33,000.

A nun holds her ballot after voting for the abortion referendum at a polling station in San Marino, Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021. Tiny San Marino is one of the last countries in Europe which forbids abortion in any circumstance - a ban that dates from 1865. Its citizens are voting Sunday in a referendum calling for abortion to be made legal in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)
A woman shows her ballot for the abortion referendum at a polling station in San Marino, Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021. Tiny San Marino is one of the last countries in Europe which forbids abortion in any circumstance - a ban that dates from 1865. Its citizens are voting Sunday in a referendum calling for abortion to be made legal in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)
A woman casts her ballot for the abortion referendum at a polling station in San Marino, Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021. Tiny San Marino is one of the last countries in Europe which forbids abortion in any circumstance - a ban that dates from 1865. Its citizens are voting Sunday in a referendum calling for abortion to be made legal in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)
A woman casts her ballot for the abortion referendum at a polling station in San Marino, Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021. Tiny San Marino is one of the last countries in Europe which forbids abortion in any circumstance - a ban that dates from 1865. Its citizens are voting Sunday in a referendum calling for abortion to be made legal in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)
A nun casts her ballot for the abortion referendum at a polling station in San Marino, Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021. Tiny San Marino is one of the last countries in Europe which forbids abortion in any circumstance - a ban that dates from 1865. Its citizens are voting Sunday in a referendum calling for abortion to be made legal in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)
A woman leaves a polling station after voting voting for the abortion referendum in San Marino, Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021. Tiny San Marino is one of the last countries in Europe which forbids abortion in any circumstance - a ban that dates from 1865. Its citizens are voting Sunday in a referendum calling for abortion to be made legal in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)
A woman votes for the abortion referendum at a polling station in San Marino, Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021. Tiny San Marino is one of the last countries in Europe which forbids abortion in any circumstance - a ban that dates from 1865. Its citizens are voting Sunday in a referendum calling for abortion to be made legal in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)
A woman casts her ballot for the abortion referendum at a polling station in San Marino, Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021. Tiny San Marino is one of the last countries in Europe which forbids abortion in any circumstance - a ban that dates from 1865. Its citizens are voting Sunday in a referendum calling for abortion to be made legal in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)
A couple cast their ballots for the abortion referendum, at a polling station in San Marino, Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021. Tiny San Marino is one of the last countries in Europe which forbids abortion in any circumstance - a ban that dates from 1865. Its citizens are voting Sunday in a referendum calling for abortion to be made legal in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)