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Tiny San Marino latest majority-Catholic country to support legalizing abortion
The small country of San Marino became the latest majority-Catholic nation to support legalizing abortion on Sunday, after residents overwhelmingly backed allowing the procedure under certain circumstances.
Roughly 77 percent of voters in San Marino - one of the world's oldest republics, surrounded by Italy - supported a referendum proposal to make abortion legal within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, The Associated Press reported, citing the official returns broadcast on San Marino RTV.
The proposal also called for allowing abortion if a woman's life is at risk or if fetal anomalies or malformations are putting a woman's physical or psychological health in danger.
The approved referendum directed San Marino's Parliament to write a bill legalizing abortion.
Turnout for the vote was 41 percent of the 33,000 people living in San Marino, the news wire noted.
The referendum opened after roughly 3,000 people backed a petition drive to overturn San Marino's abortion law, which has been in existence since 1865, the AP reported.
San Marino is one of the last remaining countries in Europe to criminalize abortion, according to the AP. Ireland legalized the procedure in 2018, and abortion has been legal in Italy since 1978.
The procedure is still illegal in Malta and Andorra. Poland proposed a near-total ban on abortion this year, the AP noted.
Women in San Marino who wish to receive an abortion typically travel to Italy to receive the produce, according to the news wire.
Supporters of the referendum argued that the circumstances place an excessive financial burden on women, and punish those who become pregnant as a result of rape.
Before the vote, the bishop of San Marino, Monsignor Andrea Turazzi, said the Catholic Church was "decidedly against" decriminalizing abortion, even though he said the push for the initiative increased awareness of the need for improve services and care, particularly for mothers in need, according to the AP.
Mexico, which also has a Catholic majority, also recently moved to decriminalize abortion after the Supreme Court shot down a state law that stipulates jail sentences of up to three years for women who obtain abortions.