WOMEN’S STRUGGLE IN SAN MARINO
The historic battle carried out by the San Marino Women’s Union for the legalisation of abortion in Europe’s third smallest state, San Marino. After collecting signatures and calling for a referendum, thanks to an overwhelming campaign, on 26 September 2021 77% of the population will vote in favour of decriminalisation.
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The referendum on the voluntary interruption of pregnancy in the Republic of San Marino comes at a time when the right to abortion and women’s self-determination are under attack from many quarters around the world. The historic result of the vote on Sunday 26 September 2021, in a country where abortion was strongly criminalised, represents a crucial fact that goes far beyond the borders of the small state. According to the law, from that moment on, political forces are obliged to enact a law decriminalising and protecting women’s autonomous choice within six months. The long struggle of UDS women shows once again that only the strength of feminist movements and mobilisations can fully guarantee the right to free and safe abortion and the complete self-determination of women’s bodies. Without their extraordinary campaign, this historic result would not have been possible.
Even today, the voluntary interruption of pregnancy is presented as a denied right, targeted by neo-conservative rhetoric and policies, driven by nationalist and sovereignist forces around the world. We only need to think about the recent law of the State of Texas, which prohibits abortion after six weeks, or about Poland, which has recently introduced an almost absolute ban, as well as about the law 194 in Italy, which is continually undermined by the high rate of conscientious objection in hospitals and the consequent lack of services. The small state of about 33,000 inhabitants situated between Emilia-Romagna and Marche was one of the very few in Europe where terminating a pregnancy was a very serious offence. In February 2021, the San Marino Women’s Union proposed the referendum question, which on 15 March the constitutionality guarantor board declared admissible. The influence of the Church in the Republic is significant, with the relative majority party in parliament being the Christian Democrats, whose government programme includes the protection of life from conception onwards and complete opposition to abortion. Close to the party was “One of us”, the committee against the referendum, which was set up three days before the delivery of the signatures collected by the UDS. Despite this, thanks to the organisation for the “Yes” vote, which set up stalls and events in squares, bars and meeting points throughout the territory, the historic result of 26 September 2021 was achieved, when 77% of the population voted in favour of women’s right to self-determination.
The right to voluntary termination of pregnancy represents a fundamental element for the full development of women’s self-determination, free to choose over their own bodies and lives. The vote in San Marino has come at a particular historical juncture, a time when neo-conservative forces, in various parts of the world, are attempting to deny women this right once again, to relegate them to the role of mothers and incubators. For this reason, following the referendum campaign of the San Marino Women’s Union, seeing them win by such a wide margin and having the opportunity to live that experience of liberation and conquest when the eyes of the world were focused on the small and very ancient Republic, was a very exciting moment of growth and further understanding of how only women’s organisation can overcome even centuries of obscurantism.