Saturday, August 23, 2003


The Drudge Report has developing news that Russia is increasing restrictions on abortion for first time in 50 years. Apparently, Matt is following up on my post of August 17th. The story has been removed from the link so I'll reproduce it here. Thanks to

Health Ministry proposes tighter abortion laws

Abortion, once the country's primary means of birth control, is in steady decline in post-Soviet Russia, but the rate is still staggering. For every 10 births there are about 13 abortions, compared with roughly three in the United States.

In late July the Russian Health Ministry proposed scaling back the liberal policy whereby women can cite a wide range of non-medical reasons - being unmarried, poor, already raising three children - to obtain an abortion well into the second trimester of pregnancy. The new proposal would still guarantee abortions in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy to anyone. But after that, most women - including rape victims - would be turned away.

"Abortion should never in any society be the primary method of birth control," said Vladimir Kulakov, a leading gynaecologist and head of the Scientific Centre for Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

During the Soviet era, women had limited options for avoiding pregnancy. Men regarded Soviet-produced condoms as uncomfortable and unreliable. Doctors were rarely able to prescribe oral contraceptives. Abortion was outlawed by Stalin for 19 years as he sought to boost the birth-rate. It was reinstated in 1955, after his death, and became widely available even in small towns. Abortions skyrocketed in the chaos that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union, when jobs and the social net evaporated overnight, often hitting women hardest.

Four years of economic growth have taken some of the financial bite out of starting a family. Birth-rates are climbing, albeit slowly. According to government statistics, last year there were 9.8 births for every 1,000 people, compared to 9.1 the year before.

Today, all major birth control methods are easily available at the corner pharmacy, often without prescription. "Young people are more literate and informed about birth control," said Tatyana Lobova, who runs a city-funded family planning clinic in Moscow. "But not everybody and not everywhere."

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