In 1920 The Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic became the first state in the world that legitimized abortions. Since those times the curve of abortions banning shows the condition of human rights in the state.
For example, abortions were prohibited in 1936–1955 — the times of most harsh Stalin repressions. In Putin’s Russia the assault on abortion is the part of overall cut of human rights and pro-conservative agenda. But until now the traditional “soviet” freedom of woman to decide what to do with her body still holds. Now abortions in Russia are stated legal and free of charge in budget clinics. But step by step the opponents of abortion are pushing forward.
The last decade
In 2012 laws had been passed to fix the right of any medic to refuse to interrupt the pregnancy cause of ethical reasons, as well as “a week of silence” — a mandatory pause between the addressing of the patient in the clinic and the operation itself (from 48 hours to a week depending on the duration of gestation).
In 2013 there was a legislative initiative of the local parliament of Samara: the deputies proposed a new law to remove the abortion from the list of free medical services. The bill was sent back by the State Duma (Federal parliament) with the formal reasons (the absence of the conclusion of Russian Government). The observers note that it was a probation of public opinion on the matter of abortion, and it showed that the society is still not ready for such measures. By the way Putin’s regime strongly relies on the support of Russian Orthodox church which is strictly against abortion referring to it as “a sin”.
In November 2016 His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia (head of the Russian Orthodox church) stated that prohibition of abortion now is impossible in Russia, but he proposed to remove the abortion from the list of free medical services. “Now it’s a time to get back to understanding that abortion is, first of all, a sin, and secondly, an abuse of a woman. There is no woman who made abortion and do not suffer with it as with the hardest moment in her life. I know this because I listen for confessions”. The Grand Mufti Talgat Tajuddin supported his orthodox colleague.
Month later, in December 2016 the expert group in Russian Government had declined by the majority of votes the bill about exemption of the abortion from the list of free medical services. Mikhail Abyzov, Minister for Open Government affairs, stated that “society and state have no right to make cannibalistic decisions”. The representatives of the Ministry of Health pointed that exemption of the abortion from the list of free medical services could lead to the discrimination and to the growth of criminal abortions. The Minister of Health Veronika Skvortsova stated that above mentioned exemption could threaten the health of women, especially with low income and juveniles.
In the may of 2017 in State Duma a new interfractional group for protection of Christian values began to work. 46 deputies entered the group (of total 450). On the first meeting of the group Governor of the New Jerusalem monastery Archimandrite Theophilacte (Bezukladnikov) said: “The abortion must be recognized as murder. We have to pay attention on this law and it must be adopted”.
The raw facts
Meanwhile experts note that in a number of regions of Russia there is already no legal possibility to interrupt the pregnancy. For example, in Danilov (Yaroslavl region) all the doctors of local budget clinic are refusing to make abortions. Following the law, the administration of the clinic has to provide other doctors to the patients. But in fact administration just support non-abortion policy.
There are no commercial clinics at the area, therefore 25 000 people have to travel in other places (in Yaroslavl mostly) if they want to make an abortion. The decision of declining to make an abortion is not stated in any local regulatory document: medics just reject to make abortions with the support of clinic’s administration and local orthodox priests.
In 2018 in Stary Oscol (Belgorod region) a woman was ordered to take a permission from an orthodox priest to make an abortion. Also is reported that clinic in Stary Oscol is filled with anti-abortion propaganda.
From 31 July till 3 August 2018 there was an action of temporary prohibition of abortions in following regions: Primorsky kray, Yakutia, Respublic of Sakha. The action was presented as having “educational objectives”.
The lowest numbers of abortion are in North Caucasus, especially in Chechnya and Ingushetia. Human rights activists link it with local overall anti-humanitarian traditions and slave-like position of women in the region.
In internationally unrecognized territory of Abkhazia 22 of December 2015 the abortions were prohibited, now it is a felony. In the same time observers report of the growth of selective abortions in Caucasus region: after determination of the sex of fetus parents decide to make an abortion if it is female.
Galina Semya, the member of Presidential Counsil on realization of national strategy of actions in the interest of children, states that the theme of prohibition of abortions is not worked over well: “We need good studies. We need to understand why people do abortions, study the experience of other countries. We have to divide abortions by groups. But there are a lot of cases we can’t foresee. That’s why we can’t make a closed list; but making an open list is also ineffective. I’m 100% agree with the Minister of Health that abortions must not be excluded from the list of free medical services, because this will lead to appearance of a shadow market. We need a program of studies which will be made by normal specialists: not influenced by church, and not being supporters or opponents of abortion” Galina Semya said.