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Authorities mulling radical steps against home birth

Authorities mulling radical steps against home birth
Russia’s Justice Ministry has prepared a bill that allows official registration only to children born inside official medical institutions, effectively rendering home birth illegal.

In explanations published on the ministry’s website, the authors of the draft note they are targeting fraud schemes in which people register non-existent children, or children of other parents as their own. Usually, criminals do this to receive the so called “mother’s capital” – one-time monetary aid from the government, or other benefits.

The ministry experts also noted that the possibility of state registration of children born at home leads to increasing number of births without medical attendance, which endangers the health of women and children alike.

In 2012 and 2013, in central Russia’s Astrakhan Region alone, courts annulled 43 birth certificates issued to members of the local Roma community, the sponsors of the bill claim.

The officials decry the current situation, where a child can be registered on the basis of eyewitness testimony and suggest issuing birth certificates only to children born in official medical institutions. The only possible exception is made for people who live in remote and isolated locations. The list of areas and districts with such locations has to be prepared by the government.

In 2012, 3,551 children in Russia were registered in accordance with eyewitness accounts, and in 2013 the number was 3,881.

The bill has not yet been drafted, but has already met with opposition from senior MPs. The head of the Lower House committee for women, children and family, Yelena Mizulina, told the RIA Novosti news agency that the step was inhumane, adding that the Russian family code gives every woman the right to home birth. Stripping citizens of their right just because some fraudsters are abusing it will not be a justifiable solution, Mizulina stated.

The intense reaction among mass media, activists and the public prompted the Justice Ministry to issue a new press release insisitng the suggested measures should not be described as a “ban on home birth.” Children born outside medical institutions will be registered like anyone else, but mothers will have to either get a certificate from medics, or prove their motherhood in court, the ministry’s press service elaborated.