Times of Crisis increases pressure for abortions

Russia has long suffered one of the highest abortion rates in Europe. Amid the global financial crisis, sources suggest that the figures have increased further. But some families are still putting children before thrift.

There’s always room for one more, says Evdokiya, even though the realities of her life seem to contradict this common sense logic.

A tiny room is the only home for Evdokiya, her husband and three kids. When she learned she was pregnant again, abortion was the first thing that came to her mind.

“You can see how we live,” Evdokiya told RT while showing her humble living arrangements.

“This room is just 13 square meters. I thought another kid would be just too much, especially because my youngest daughter is so small.”

With the economy getting tougher, some Russian families see abortion as an anti-crisis measure. While no official figures are yet available, some indirect signs suggest pregnancy termination may be on the rise in Russia.

Search engines have reported the number of abortion inquiries have increased by at least ten times. Hotlines, too, are seeing a surge in calls from women considering this option.

It has now become commonplace to blame the crisis for all the surrounding problems. Nevertheless, even before the economic downturn, Russia had one of the highest pregnancy termination rates in Europe.

In fact, in 2008, a year which saw the highest birth rate in Russia in 25 years, about as many children were aborted as were born.

While economic difficulties are now the most frequent reason cited by women seeking abortion, psychologists say few of them face real poverty.

Alyona’s family was relatively well-off when she learned she was pregnant with a second child, a girl. She had no doubt they could raise her, but her husband and his relatives were strongly opposed.

“I never thought I was so weak, that I would yield so easily to other people’s wishes and kill my baby,” Alyona confessed.

“The country is going mad with this crisis. I think this hysteria played a major role in my husband’s decision,” she added.

According to psychologists, Alyona’s story is far from unique. In troubled times, it is often husbands and relatives who show women the way to an abortion clinic.

Psychologist Svetlana Rudneva explains that “in Russia. where abortion was legalized fairly early, women have become hostages of abortion. Society tells them – you can have a baby, but then it will be your own problem. The participation of a father and a family is no longer seen by society as obligatory, so women are often left one on one with their difficulties.”

But having family on your side can make a world of difference, even when life is really scraping rock-bottom.

Evdokiya’s husband, the only provider for the family, has just seen his salary cut. But his strong opposition to abortion means they are now expecting their fourth child. And, despite being slightly concerned about finances, he is convinced that the family will do just fine.