ROME (AP) - Voters in San Marino, a tiny republic surrounded by Italy, voted Sunday whether to decriminalize abortion, with the Roman Catholic Church firmly opposed and the "yes" camp hoping to make the procedure legal in some circumstances.
The ballot proposal calls for abortion to be made legal in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy and beyond then if the woman's life is in danger or if her physical or psychological health are at risk because of fetal anomalies or malformations.
Women in San Marino seeking an abortion usually go to neighboring Italy, a similarly Catholic country which legalized the procedure in 1978. But proponents of the referendum say that puts an undue financial burden on them and penalizes women who have been raped.
Opponents argue that in San Marino even minors can already receive free contraception at pharmacies, including the so-called morning-after pill.
The referendum was set after around 3,000 people signed a petition drive to overturn the microstate's abortion law, which dates from 1865. If "Yes" votes prevail, San Marino's Parliament will need to legalize the procedure.
Results were expected late Sunday.
San Marino is one of the world's oldest republics and has a population of about 33,000.