“It is difficult for women to conquer new rights but the real commitment is to defend the freedoms we consider acquired every day. They should never be taken for granted ». Talking is Karen Pruccoli, President ofUnion of San Marino Women (UDS), association promoting the referendum for the decriminalization of abortion that will take place on September 26 in the Republic of San Marino. In the state of 33,000 inhabitants, between Emilia-Romagna and Marche, the voluntary termination of pregnancy (IVG) is still a crime punished with imprisonment for both the woman who has an abortion and for those who help her. “Even in Poland, the state that has one of the most restrictive laws in Europe on the termination of pregnancy, the decriminalization of abortion is foreseen in the event that the woman is in danger of life. In San Marino n. The state of necessity – the fact that to save the woman the fetus can be killed – is a mitigating factor to the crime resulting from interpretation in practice, but not explicitly stated by the law “. Articles 153 and 154 of the San Marino Criminal Code are dedicated to abortion: the first year prohibits the termination of pregnancy without exceptions, the second clarifies that abortion involves a less serious penalty.
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The law is old, it dates back to 1865. How could it last so long?
“The maddening delay in our battle for the legalization of abortion has two reasons. The first is that we San Marino have been engaged in other campaigns such as the one on citizenship that women lose if they get married to a man from another state. The second is the indifference of politics which, aware of the problem, has always relied on women’s good ability to arrange. We have made several attempts to decriminalize the IVG but they have always failed. In 2016, three Arengo Instances with which citizens asked the Great and General Council (the Parliament ed) to legislate on the decriminalization of abortion in the event of rape, life threatening and serious malformations of the fetus, were approved but they never become law ».
Has the proximity to Italy influenced?
“Yup. Today women who want to have an abortion go to Italy. They spend around 1500 euros and the anonymity guaranteed by the Italian health system is maintained. The well-being that the inhabitants of San Marino have always enjoyed has contributed to a lot so that the ban on abortions in our Republic lasted for a long time. The economic crisis, however, also affects us: there are girls, students, unemployed, many women who cannot afford the price of abortion. The number of clandestine abortions is growing, of people who get the RU abortion pill on the black market, of those who carry on unwanted pregnancies. These are situations with which we of the San Marino Women’s Union are in contact ».
How was the UDS born?
“We were a group of citizens who pushed for the legalization of abortion. In 2019, when we presented our second draft law on the subject, we still do not have a defined identity and so we decided to revive the old acronym of the Union of San Marino Women, a feminist movement of the seventies and eighties, in accordance with the previous protagonists who have joined us in the battle for abortion. After so many requests to politics that went unheeded, we decided to hold a referendum. On March 15th the college guaranteeing constitutionality declared the question admissible ».
“Immediately after starting the collection of signatures. It took a thousand to confirm the referendum, we have more than three thousand as proof of the interest that citizens have on the subject. At the forefront are young people: they know the world, they have lived outside, they realize that life on abortion is unsustainable in San Marino. The date scheduled for the referendum is next September 26th. Up to two days before, we will carry out our campaign for the yes by promoting meetings and debates, providing clear and transparent information so that citizens can vote in an informed manner ».
Who opposes the decriminalization of abortion?
«The One of Us Committee, made up of local pro-life groups, is fighting to ensure that things remain as they are now. They prefer silence and hypocrisy because San Marino women abort the same but far from their eyes. Even the Catholic Church has an influential role in the debate, given the patriarchal setting of religion it does not want women to acquire the right to self-determination ».
What does the referendum question say?
“The question is deliberately simple, clear and in line with the Italian law 194 which legalized the voluntary termination of pregnancy in 1978. We ask that the woman be free to choose what to do within the 12th week and that afterwards she is guaranteed the possibility of abortion due to life threatening or serious malformations of the fetus. The referendum is of a proactive type and therefore remains the criminal offense for cases of abortion not covered by the question. Immediately after the vote, if the yes wins, the Great and General Council will have to legislate on the decriminalization of abortion and therefore also regulate all those aspects that make the IVG possible such as consultants, conscientious objection, etc “.
So even if yeses prevail in the referendum, the work of the UDS is far from finished, right?
“Exactly. It is important to understand what kind of law the Great and General Council will propose and to pay attention that there will be no obstacles that a woman could obtain in exercising what, as the European Parliament has also recognized, is a human right.