By Dave Andrusko
Russian President Dmitri A. Medvedev yesterday signed a number of amendments to the law on advertising requiring 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 says 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.
According to a 2004 UN survey Russia had the highest rate of abortion in the world—53.7 abortions per 1000 women between the ages of 15 and 44. Official estimates are that there were 1.3 million abortions in 2009, but abortion statistics are notoriously suspect. Pro-lifers think the numbers are far larger.
“Free abortion is 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 Associated Press.
Meanwhile the Russian population continues to plummet. Between 1992 and 2008, the population decreased by more than 12 million–to around 143 million, Reuters reported.
Pro-lifers anticipate and pro-abortionists fear that more pro-life legislation is in the works. “The parliament may soon pass a new anti-abortion bill that could limit Russians’ access to abortion services and toughen criminal punishment for doctors who carry out illegal abortions,” Ria Novosti reported yesterday.
The New York Times, hardly a friendly or even disinterested party, reports that what it describes as “Russia’s increasingly vocal anti-abortion activists, some in Parliament” has a friend who has taken up the cause: Mr. Medvedev’s wife, Svetlana Medvedeva.
Writing in the Times, Sophia Kishkovsky reports 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 reports, after some near-misses.
“Officials of the Russian Orthodox Church had complained that members of Parliament who support a right to abortion had scuttled amendments to a health bill that would have imposed a waiting period,” she writes. A member of Parliament, Valery Draganov, has “reintroduced a legislative package for consideration in the lower house that would place strict limits on abortion.”