Abortion debate jeopardizes 900-year-old Liechtenstein dynasty

by Peter Baklinski

LIECHTENSTEIN,(LifeSiteNews.com) – Hereditary Prince Alois of Liechtenstein has threatened to step down from his royal duties if a citizen-led initiative to limit his vetoing power proves successful. The citizens’ initiative gained momentum last year when the 43 year-old prince threatened to veto the results of a referendum should the majority opt to legalize abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy and in cases of fetal deformity.

Speaking to parliament in March, the prince, a devout Catholic and father of four, made it clear that for the Royal Family to continue its vision for the country, it must retain the royal power to veto legislation contrary to that vision.

“The royal family is not willing to undertake its political responsibilities unless the prince… has the necessary tools at his disposal,” said Prince Alois as reported by Agence France-Presse. “But if the people are no longer open to that, then the royal family will not want to undertake its political responsibilities and … will completely withdraw from political life.”

Liechtenstein, with a population of 36,000 and a land area of 160 square kilometers, has a constitution that empowers the hereditary prince with the royal right of veto. The royal family and their princes have ruled the tiny country as an autonomous monarchy since the Holy Roman Empire was dissolved in 1806.

Abortion in Liechtenstein is illegal under current law. According to the Penal Code of 1987, whoever performs an abortion can be punished with up to one year in prison. If an abortion is performed for profit, the sentence is elevated to three years in prison. Abortions are permitted, however, when deemed necessary to prevent serious danger to the life of the pregnant woman or serious harm to her health, when the pregnant woman is under the age of fourteen and has not at any time been married to the man who impregnated her, or when performed to save the pregnant woman from immediate danger to her life that cannot otherwise be prevented.

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