Russian authorities take measures to address demographic crisis by restricting access to abortions

Russian authorities are implementing measures to confront the country’s long-standing demographic crisis by limiting access to abortions. These measures include making it illegal to persuade a woman to have an abortion and pressuring private clinics to stop performing the procedure. This campaign, backed by the Russian Orthodox Church, has been met with criticism from feminist groups who argue that it puts women’s lives at risk.

The decreasing population in Russia is a significant concern, with the number of people remaining virtually the same as it was over 20 years ago. In 2022 alone, over 500,000 pregnancies were terminated, compared to 1.3 million children born in Russia. This has raised concerns about the effects on the economy and the ability to recruit soldiers for the military. Russian feminists believe that women’s rights are being curtailed for the benefit of the military and economy.

The government’s approach to limiting abortions has been informal, as the country’s laws regarding abortion remain relatively liberal. The Health Ministry has provided guidelines to healthcare professionals on how to dissuade women from having an abortion. For instance, doctors are encouraged to inform pregnant women under the age of 18 that young parents bond better with their children, and that having a child does not hinder their chance of finding a life partner if they are single.

The government is also offering financial incentives to pregnant women and those who give birth, including substantial payments that can be used for purchasing property or paying for education. Private clinics, which carry out a fifth of abortions in Russia, have faced pressure from religious authorities to stop offering abortion services. Several regions in Russia have taken steps to restrict private clinics from performing abortions.

However, experts and organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) have expressed concerns about the potential negative consequences of these measures. The restriction on access to safe medical abortions may lead to an increase in more dangerous, illegal procedures. Additionally, the focus on surgical abortions in state hospitals carries higher risks of complications compared to medical abortions promoted by private clinics.

The anti-abortion campaign in Russia has sparked a debate about women’s reproductive rights and the role of religion in policy-making. Critics argue that these measures prioritize demographic concerns over individual autonomy and women’s health. The long-term impact of these policies remains to be seen, but it is clear that they have generated significant controversy and raised important questions about reproductive rights and the role of the government in shaping population dynamics.