Voters in the tiny principality nation of Liechtenstein in Europe have rejected a national referendum on whether to ratify a draft bill which would lead to the legalization of abortion.
Voters on Sunday rejected the measure by a 514 vote margin out of 11,510 ballots cast, with 52.3 percent of the residents of the nation voting no and 47.7 percent voting yes. The plan would have allowed abortions within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy and in any case when the child has a disability such as Down syndrome.
Along with Poland and Ireland, Liechtenstein belongs to the small number of European countries where abortion is not a “right,” but a criminal offense. Current law makes it so abortions are prohibited except in very rare cases when the mother’s life is in danger or the girl is under 14 years old and a victim of rape or incest. Abortion practitioners can face as much as three years in prison for doing an abortion.
Prince Alois of Liechtenstein, the country’s de facto ruler, said he would do what he could in his power to block the bill from becoming law if the nation’s legislature took it up following the vote. He said, “Until now we have been proud to support people with disabilities in our country. The proposal would discriminate against such people and allow them to be eliminated in the womb.”
Under the current law, abortions are generally not allowed, even when the abortion is performed outside the country. Furthermore, government departments and offices are obligated to report any abortions of which they have knowledge. Only when the life of the mother is endangered and no other option remains, is a termination of a pregnancy allowed.
With the vote, the two main political parties are reportedly looking at an alternative bill, which Alois has not issued an opinion on, that would continue prohibiting abortions but make it so having an abortion outside the country would not be illegal.
Human Life International president Father Shenan J. Boquet praised the pro-life victory against the referendum.
“Against mounting international pressure both from the European Union and the United Nations, the people of Liechtenstein voted to protect life, and embrace their traditional Catholic culture and faith, with the rejection of this referendum,” said Fr. Boquet. “That this referendum specifically targeted babies with disabilities was deplorable, and we are very happy that life will continue to be protected in Liechtenstein.”
HLI’s European Director Joannes Bucher helped to organize and lead an effort of pro-life organizations in Europe who campaigned against the referendum.
“Several pro-life organizations have organized to support Liechtenstein and their head of state Prince Alois in the fight for life including Human Life International (HLI), HLI Helpers Europe, Jugend für das Leben (Youth for Life), Gloria.tv and the German organization Embryonenoffensive,” said Bucher prior to Sunday’s vote. “Flyers have been mailed by post to all households in Liechtenstein imploring them to choose life in the impending referendum, and thereby choose the best for mother and child.”
“This victory is yet another example of the people of Europe embracing their faith and the protection of human life as seen in Hungary, Poland and even Russia this past year,” said Fr. Boquet. “HLI will continue to oppose the radical EU and UN agenda to destroy the dignity of human life in Europe and around the world.”
Joannes Bucher of HLI said Liechtenstein is facing immense pressure from the rest of Europe to allow abortions.