Switzerland's tiny neighbour Liechtenstein voted on Sunday against legalising abortion, in line with the wishes of the principality's hereditary ruler Alois von und zu Liechtenstein.

"/> Switzerland's tiny neighbour Liechtenstein voted on Sunday against legalising abortion, in line with the wishes of the principality's hereditary ruler Alois von und zu Liechtenstein.

" />
SHARE
COPY LINK

ABORTION

Liechtenstein votes not to legalise abortion

Switzerland's tiny neighbour Liechtenstein voted on Sunday against legalising abortion, in line with the wishes of the principality's hereditary ruler Alois von und zu Liechtenstein.

With 52.3 percent of votes against and 47.7 percent in favour, the principality rejected the proposal titled Help rather than Punishment.

The referendum marks the second controversial popular initiative this year put forward in the tiny Catholic principality of 18,800 electors, after another vote in June which led to the recognition of civil partnerships for homosexuals.

Proponents of the referendum had sought to legalise abortion within 12 weeks of conception.

Termination of pregnancy carries a penalty of up to a year in prison even if it is carried out abroad.

Prince Alois already signalled his opposition ahead of the vote, saying that he would not sign the text into law. Liechtenstein’s government and parliament are also opposed to it.

The prince said he was opposed to such legislation because it could be misused to prevent the births of handicapped children.

His grandfather, prince Franz-Josef II, set a precedent in 1961 when he refused to approve a referendum result reforming the right to hunt in Liechtenstein. 

Proponents of the text point out that Liechtenstein’s neighbours, Switzerland and Austria, both authorise abortion.

They also claim that 50 women break the law every year in their country, or head to Swiss cities such as Chur or St Gallen to carry out abortions.

The United Nations has repeatedly asked Liechtenstein to stop criminalising abortion.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

ARMY

Swiss history: How the army attacked Liechtenstein three times — by mistake 

Switzerland has been neutral for the past 500 years. But that didn’t stop it from “invading” its tiny neighbour three times in the past 35 years. How did this happen?

Swiss history: How the army attacked Liechtenstein three times — by mistake 
Only a footbridge separates Switzerland from Liechtenstein. Photo by Fabrice Coffrini / AFP

Liechtenstein lies very – and, it would seem, dangerously —close to Switzerland. Where a border should be between the two Alpine nations there is only a footbridge, which may explain why the Swiss military made its way into the minuscule, 23-kilometre-long principality with such ease.

The first incident in the ‘oops…sorry’ category happened in 1985. During a training exercise in the proper use of ground-to-air-missiles, Swiss artillery launched rockets straight into Liechtenstein, igniting a massive forest fire along with a diplomatic snafu.

At first the Swiss claimed that strong winds, which were blowing in the region on that day, were to blame for the misdirected launch. But in the end, the government paid several million francs for damages inflicted on Liechtenstein’s forests.

Seven years later, Switzerland struck again.

Army recruits were on maneuvers when they received orders to set up an observation post in Triesenberg. The soldiers obliged, until local residents started to ask what the Swiss military unit was doing in their town. It was only then that the recruits — and their commanders — realised that Triesenberg is located in Liechtenstein.

Fast-forward to a rainy night in 2007, when 170 troops armed with rifles (but apparently not with a GPS) stumbled into Liechtenstein. They marched on for more than a kilometre until someone exclaimed, “Hey, this isn’t Switzerland”! (“Hey, das isch nöd d Schwiiz”)!

At this point the soldiers turned around and hot-footed it back home.

In all fairness, it is difficult to tell Switzerland apart from Liechtenstein, even in broad daylight. Rural areas in both countries look the same, and people in both nations speak the same Swiss German dialect and use Swiss franc as their currency.

Imagine how much more complicated it is to distinguish one country from another when it’s dark and raining.

According to reports, the incident did not have any political repercussions.

“It’s not like they stormed over here with attack helicopters or something”, Markus Amman, Liechtenstein’s spokesman for the Interior, remarked at the time.

“These things happen”, he added philosophically, no doubt referring to the two previous episodes when the mighty Swiss army came uninvited.

READ MORE: Swiss history: How the Swiss army refused to decommission its pigeons

 

SHOW COMMENTS