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Russian Parliament Passes New Limitations on Abortion

by | Oct 22, 2011

By Dave Andrusko

Svetlana Medvedeva

The details are pretty sketchy, but the news is encouraging. The Russian parliament today took another step forward to reining in the number of abortions that are conservatively estimated at more than one million a year but (given how notoriously suspect abortion statistics are) is probably far larger.

According to the Associated Press (AP)

“The law passed Friday limits abortions to 12 weeks of pregnancy, except for women who say they can’t afford a child, who may have an abortion up to 22 weeks. The law also stipulates a mandatory waiting period of two to seven days before the procedure to allow a woman to reconsider her decision”

Prior to passage of today’s law, “Free abortion [is/was] available at any licensed medical clinic in the country and at any term in the pregnancy, though late termination is only permitted on grounds of severe health risks to the mother or fetal abnormalities,” according to the AP.

A 2004 UN survey concluded that Russia had the highest rate of abortion in the world—53.7 abortions per 1,000 women between the ages of 15 and 44. As a result the Russian population has continued to plummet. Between 1992 and 2008, the population decreased by more than 5.7 million–to around 143 million.

Not surprisingly, today’s AP story immediately talked about what didn’t happen: “The law does not include restrictions proposed by the Russian Orthodox Church, such as a requiring a husband’s consent for married women, parents’ consent for teenage girls or for a doctor’s right to refuse an abortion.” But that misses that pro-lifers have seized the initiative.

In July, Russian President Dmitri A. Medvedev signed a number of amendments to the law on advertising that requires abortion ads to carry warnings about their side effects, including loss of fertility. “The new amendments require that warnings about the dangers should occupy no less than 10 percent of each advertisement,” according to the Russian International News Agency Ria Novosti.

On the web site a summary said the new law “is directed on the whole towards protecting women’s health and makes it mandatory for advertising of medical services on the artificial termination of pregnancy to include warnings on the danger of this procedure for women’s health and the possible harmful consequences, including infertility.”

In addition, “The bill also stipulates that mothers who don’t want to keep their babies will be able to leave their newborn children anonymously in special adoption centers,” according to Ria Novosti.

Pro-lifers hope and pro-abortionists fear there is more legislation to come.

When the advertising requirements were passed last summer, the New York Times, hardly a friendly or even disinterested party, reported that what it describes as “Russia’s increasingly vocal anti-abortion activists, some in Parliament” has a friend who has taken up the cause: Russian President Dmitri A. Medvedev’s wife, Svetlana Medvedeva.

Writing in the Times, Sophia Kishkovsky reported that “Last Friday, her Foundation for Social and Cultural Initiatives launched a nationwide campaign, ‘Give Me Life!’ which it advertised on its Web site and in brochures and other materials as a ‘week against abortion.’”

In addition, not only are several local governments supporting the campaign, “state-run medical centers offered families and single women consultations to avoid abortion and lift the birthrate.”

There may be more legislation to come, Kishkovsky reported, after some near-misses.

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Categories: Abortion