Horror find points to illegal abortions

Police in Moscow are investigating the gruesome discovery of five dead babies in a rubbish bin. Medical workers are trying to determine whether they had been aborted or were still-born.

The grisly find has shocked the city and once again sparked debate.

The discovery was made on Sunday evening in a residential area. The bodies, which were wrapped in black plastic bags, are aged between three to six months.

Witnesses reported seeing a pack of excited dogs around the bin before the tiny bodies were found.

There are conflicting reports about who exactly discovered them – high school students or homeless people who were searching for food in the dumpster.

Investigators say it is likely the babies were aborted illegally. They are suggesting that their mothers could either be underage girls or immigrant workers too poor to have abortions in clinics.

Residents of the area say it is unlikely the abortions were carried out in their district, which is considered quite well-to-do.

Hard decision: giving birth or not?

The story of Anna Vorobzhankaya from St. Petersburg is tragic, but not unique. She found out she was pregnant, but had to have an abortion. She says her boyfriend’s betrayal and bad living conditions were to blame.

“At that moment I didn’t see another solution. I couldn’t imagine how I would cope on my own. My parents were quite elderly, and I had nowhere to live,” she confessed.

Elena Trushechkina also had to face a difficult choice in her life. Doctors said her baby could inherit serious health problems because of medication Elena was taking when she found out she was pregnant. But she decided to keep the child no matter what. The woman gave birth to a healthy baby, and says she is now against abortions.

“Personally, I’m against it. I will do my utmost to avoid any situations where I’d have to have an abortion,” Elena says.

Preventing abortion

For 70 years, first in the Soviet Union, and later in the Russian Federation, abortion has been legal. Before that time it went on unofficially. In 1938 a failed attempt was made to outlaw the practice, which instead led to its legalisation.

The overall birth rate in Russia dropped significantly in the 1990s, but has begun to show a slight increase in the past few years. In the Krasnodar region, in the south of Russia, doctors noticed a significant growth in population in recent years.

For the second year in a row, local doctors are announcing “the week without abortions”, although they maintain their goal is not to prohibit the procedure. The point is to provide extensive counselling for those who are still unsure:

“Preventing abortions is our priority today. Women should be focused on giving birth. We’ve been offering family planning information during consultations as well as organising lectures and other activities at schools,” Svetlana Lesnyak from Sochi’s maternity home explains.

While the effectiveness of abortion-free week is being questioned by many, mainly for moral reasons, the figures speak for themselves. Doctors say the number of abortions in the region this year has dropped by 2,500.

Russia’s government is set to encourage population growth by building new medical facilities, and refurbishing the old ones. So, perhaps this, together with new counselling methods may give an additional boost to what many in Russia would like to see as the beginning of a baby boom.