Russian lawmakers move to tighten law on abortions, restrict morning-after pills

RIA Novosti / Sergey Krasnoukhov
MPs want to limit state insurance payments for abortions, ban private clinics from performing them and allow women to buy morning-after pills only on prescription after an obligatory health check.

The bill was drafted Tuesday jointly by Sergey Popov of the conservative majority United Russia party and Yelena Mizulina of the center-left party Fair Russia. Mizulina also chairs the Lower House Committee for the Family, Women and Children and is well known for her uncompromising stance against abortion and in defense of the “traditional family.”

The bill introduces administrative fines for performing abortions outside state clinics. The proposed fines are 150,000-200,000 rubles ($3,000-$4,000) for private individuals, 500,000-800,000 rubles ($10,000-$16,000) for individual entrepreneurs and officials and 500,000-2.5 million rubles ($10,000-$50,000) for legal entities, which can also face the full suspension of their activities for up to 90 days.

Another amendment proposes that the state health insurance fund can be used to pay for an abortion only on condition of medical prescription or “social recommendations,” such as cases when the pregnant woman was raped.

The MPs also propose banning over-the-counter sales of emergency contraception drugs, known as morning-after pills, claiming that the side effects of these drugs have not yet been studied and their irresponsible use can harm the women’s health. The bill allows pharmacies to sell emergency contraception only on prescription, after a health check.

The lawmakers also propose that any woman seeking an abortion should undergo an ultrasound scan of her womb as, “according to statistics, up to 80 percent of them refuse to have the abortion when they see their child on the screen.”

The sponsors of the bill said they want to combat the problem of abortions, which they described as a major threat to national security. The MPs also noted that, in their opinion, the origin of the current crisis was in society’s tolerance of the problem.

The lawmakers also proposed to use about 5 billion rubles ($100 million) saved through the ban on state sponsorship of abortions for aid to pregnant women who find themselves in difficult situations.

READ MORE: Christian activists gather enough support to launch bill banning abortion

In 2013, Mizulina said in a speech that the community must urgently stop tolerating abortions and surrogacy as they threaten to wipe out the population in Russia, and in the world as a whole. It was then that she first suggested tightening regulations on the termination of pregnancies and making morning-after pills a prescription drug.

In mid-2014, a group of Orthodox Christian activists claimed that they had gathered 100,000 signatures for a petition seeking a complete ban on abortions in Russia – enough to make it a valid legislative initiative. However, the proposal has not yet made it into a bill.