Russia Increases Restrictions on Abortion

Russia increased its restrictions on abortion for the first time in nearly 50 years. According to the New York Times, while Russia’s abortion laws still remain among the most permissive in the world, these new restrictions reflect the current debate in Russia over the morality of abortion and effect abortions have on the demographic future of Russia and women’s health.

Before these new restrictions were in place women could receive abortions between the 12th and 22nd weeks of pregnancy if they cited one of 13 special circumstances, including divorce, poverty, unemployment, or being a refugee. Moscow’s chief gynecologist told the Times that the government set those special circumstances 40 years ago to address the risks women faced who were seeking illegal and unsafe abortions. The new restrictions have reduced the number of special circumstances down to four – rape, imprisonment, the death or severe disability of a husband, or a court ruling taking away a woman’s parental rights. Now being a single mother or a refugee is not a legal reason to abort a pregnancy after the 12th week.

The Russian Orthodox Church has welcomed the change and has said that it will continue fighting for more restrictions, reports the New York Times. However, a poll of Russians shows that 62 percent would not support banning abortion, the Christian Science Monitor reports.

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The New York Times 8/24/03; The Washington Times 7/30/03; Christian Science Monitor 8/28/03

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