The tiny republic of San Marino has voted overwhelmingly in favour of legalising abortion in a referendum, official results showed on Sunday.
Some 77.30 per cent of voters backed the proposal 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.
Speaking to AFP, president of the San Marino Women’s Union (UDS), Karen Pruccoli said: “It’s a victory for all the women of San Marino, over the conservatives and reactionaries who believe women have no rights.”
“It’s a victory against the Catholic Church who were our opponents and tried everything to prevent this result.”
The abortion law in San Marino dates back to 1865.The Interior Minister has already called parliament to translate the vote into law.
Currently, women face up to three years in prison for undergoing the procedure and The term is twice as long for anyone who carries out an abortion.
San Marino women wanting an abortion normally went to Italy, where they could only get one privately, at a cost of about € 1,500 (£1,280)
Elsewhere in Europe, the Mediterranean island of Malta, and the micro-states of Andorra and Vatican City, another Italian enclave, still ban abortion.
In Europe's last referendum on abortion, the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar voted in June to ease what remain extremely strict curbs. Ireland legalised abortion in a far higher-profile referendum in 2018.
Social progress has tended to be slow in San Marino.
Women did not get the right to vote until 1960, 14 years after surrounding Italy, and have only been allowed to hold political office since 1974. Divorce was legalised in 1986, some 16 years after Italy.
Additional reporting by Reuters