Noblesse oblige: the Prince of Liechtenstein risks his crown – and defeats the abortion lobby

Posted on | July 17, 2012 by J.C. von Krempach, J.D. |

Prince Hans Adam II. and his son, Hereditary Prince Alois of Liechtenstein

In a previous post we reported about the attempts of the anti-life lobby to leganize abortion in Liechtenstein, a small principality in Central Europe that, as one of the last European countries, maintains a legal ban on abortion.

When in 2011 a popular initiative was held to legalize abortion, Hereditary Prince Aloys of Liechtenstein (who exercises regency on behalf of his father, Prince Hans Adam II.) announced that, irrespective of the result of the initiative or of any parliamentary vote, he would exercise his veto against any bill that would legalize abortion. The initiative was then rejected by a majority of the population.

This angered the abortion lobby, who launched yet another citizen’s initiative: this time with the purpose of limiting the prince’s veto right. According to the initiative, the Prince should be able to veto only decisions adopted by the Landtag (i.e., the country’s Parliament) but not decisions adopted under a popular referendum.Under the new Constitution of the Principality, which Prince Hans Adam II. had drafted himself several years ago, the monarchy can be abolished at any time by a popular referendum – but as long as monarchy exists, the Prince has a veto on all legislative matters.

As a reaction to this, the Hereditary Prince announced in an unprecedented step that, rather than accepting an obligation to promulgate laws that would violate his conscience as well as fundamental human rights, he and his family would renounce to the throne and leave the country if the new initiative were to be successful.

The outcome of the vote, which took place on the 1st July, is a resounding victory not only for the Principal Family, but also for the Right to Life: 76 percent rejected the proposal, the Prince stays in the country, and abortion remains illegal. The inhabitants of the Principality know too well that, to maintain their status as an independent nation and one of the most prosperous countries in the world, they need the Prince more than he needs them.

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Turtle Bay and Beyond is a blog covering international law, policy and institutions. Our experts - at the UN, European Institutions, and elsewhere - explore an authentic understanding of international law, sovereignty, and the dignity of the human person. We expose those who would seek to impose a radical social vision that is contrary to these principles.

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