San Marino Approves Abortion By Overwhelming Margin, Pope Francis Calls Procedure 'Murder'

The Catholic state of San Marino legalized abortion procedures on Sunday with 77 percent of the vote, despite Pope Francis' disapproval.

As the Catholic Church strongly opposes the procedure, Pope Francis made a public statement Monday with an audience of the Vatican's bioethics academy that abortion is murder, the Associated Press reported.

The Catholic Church holds to its belief that human life begins at conception. It also believes that life is precious and must be protected from conception until natural death.

Pope Francis added that the "throwaway" culture makes abortion seem "normal."

"There is the waste of children that we don't want welcome," he said. "It is really a murder."

Only 41 percent of eligible voters in San Marino cast ballots, but the procedure was approved despite the pope's disagreement, with only 3,265 voting against it.

Once San Marino's Parliament drafts the bill and gains approval, abortion will be legal there during the first 12 weeks of a pregnancy, or later than 12 weeks if the woman's life is in danger, or her psychological or physical health is at risk.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

San Morino approves of abortion in vote
San Marino, one of the last countries in Europe to forbid abortion in any circumstance—a ban that dates from 1865—legalized abortion procedures on Sunday with 77 percent of the vote, despite Pope Francis' disapproval. Above, a woman walks past posters about the abortion referendum on Sunday. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni) Antonio Calanni/Associated Press

Valentina Rossi, member of the Union of Sammarinese Women and a referendum promoter, said the vote result was "far beyond the most optimistic expectations." She said it showed that individual voters were able to make a decision that the republic's politicians had refused to take for decades, even as Italy and other European countries made abortion legal.

"With this step, we succeeded in demonstrating that citizens are for the most part with us, and that finally San Marino will have to provide an adequate law," Rossi said. "At last!"

San Marino, one of the world's oldest republics, had been one of the last European states that still criminalized abortion. With Sunday's result, it now joins other predominantly Catholic states like Ireland, which legalized abortion in 2018, and Italy, where abortion has been legal since 1978. Abortion is still illegal in Malta and Andorra, and Poland introduced a near-total ban on the procedure this year.

Giacomo Volpinari, a San Marino citizen, said the vote was historic and showed the power of a referendum to change course.

"Where politics couldn't reach, it was the people who chose to get out from a medieval situation San Marino lived in for centuries," he said.