The task of the state is to create conditions for increasing the birth rate, rather than prohibit abortion
The campaign on banning abortions which started and then subsided in 2011 has resumed with renewed vigor. A group of senators, including Elena Mizulina, Ekaterina Lakhova and Elena Afanasyeva introduced amendments to the law “On Circulation of Pharmaceuticals” prohibiting retail sale of medicinal products intended for medical termination of pregnancy. Collections of signatures for a ban on abortion began on the portal of the Russian Public Initiative. Patriarch [of the Russian Orthodox Church] Kirill who repeatedly advocated the removal of abortion from the Compulsory Medical Insurance has put his signature too. A rally for a ban on abortion in Moscow organised by public movements Pro Life, Orthodox Volunteers, Sorok Sorokov, and Women for Life launched a public campaign for collection of signatures for a ban on abortion. The requirements for a ban on abortion relate even to the cases of rape or incurable diseases of the fetus.
The intensity of emotions does not correlate to the actual situation, showing a drop in the number of abortions. According to Rosstat, the number of abortions fell from 3.222.000 in 1993 to 848.000 in 2015. The ban on abortions looks especially along with Elena Mizulina’s initiative to ban baby boxes. Meanwhile the Ministry of Health gave negative assessments opinion on both the bills.
However, inflaming passions and increased public pressure cause fears that the government will follow the path of further limiting women’s reproductive rights. As in other areas, the state has been trying to solve social problems by means of restrictions and prohibitions.
Yet in case [a woman] turns to public healthcare facilities for termination of pregnancy, she is assigned a week of silence (which makes the operation more painful and dangerous) and mandatory consultations with a psychologist.
Certainly, these issues are thrown into public debate in order to distract the public from the real problems of economic and foreign policy crisis. There is a real danger of adopting such reactionary bills due to the consequences of the conservative turn – growth of influence on public opinion of the reactionary circles from the Russian Orthodox Church and their supporters.
The Russian and the international experience demonstrates that a ban on abortion and, consequently, criminalisation of abortion, leads to increased complications after surgery and mortality in women, and as a result, to a drop of birth rate. A ban on abortions or their removal from the Compulsory Medical Insurance system will lead to special permits required for the operation for medical or other reasons, and will be corruption-prone.
Growth of birth rate in modernised countries is associated with provision of places in kindergartens and nurseries, growth of allowances, redistribution of responsibilities for the care of children in the family (increase of the role of fathers in child rearing). Prevention of unwanted pregnancies is achieved through sexual education, in school inclusive, and availability of contraceptives.
The choice between pregnancy and abortion is more likely to be made in favour of the operation in the conditions of economic crisis, growth of the feminisation of poverty and domestic violence. This applies to the cases of unwanted pregnancy – if a family already has children and can not afford another child, or in the case of loss of a job, or in the case of rape, or in “minor mother” cases. If legal abortion is banned, [the choice will be made] in favor of a criminal abortion. There is also a moral aspect of this issue: a modern secular state does not have a right to grossly interfere in the private affairs, and especially personal and family life of citizens. Derogation from this principle is the way to the Middle Ages, which is now followed by radical Islam.
The YABLOKO party has always advocated protection of reproductive rights. We have repeatedly stated that one should fight against abortion but not women. Improve the living conditions, and the family will decide how many children they will have. Abortion is clearly an evil, a tragedy for the majority of women who chose terminate pregnancy. But the abortion ban is not an option.