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Russian officials clash over proposals to reduce funding of abortion clinics and restricting drugs

Russian officials clash over proposals to reduce funding of abortion clinics and restricting drugs
The debate over abortion has once again reared its head in Russia, after an official proposed restricting the sale of abortion drugs in pharmacies and reducing the funding of clinics. Many politicians disagree.

On Friday, Presidential Commissioner for Children’s Rights Anna Kuznetsova proposed restricting pharmacies from selling abortion drugs, and suggested reducing the funding of clinics so that the amount of allocated funds is inversely proportional to the quantity of abortions.

Her report states that “the clinic should be interested in preserving the child, and not in providing services for artificial termination of pregnancy.”

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Kuznetsova, who has seven children of her own, did not win much support from Russian politicians in the country’s parliament or Human Rights Council. Speaking to Interfax, State Duma deputy Gennady Onishchenko said that Kuznetsova’s ideas would not solve any problems, and simply put the lives of many women at risk.

“I wouldn’t slip into simplistic schemes,” Onishchenko said. “We already prohibited abortion once, and, in sheds with unsanitary conditions, midwives killed young girls, deprived them of their health and the happiness of being mothers.”

Boris Mendelevich, another State Duma deputy, agreed with Onishchenko. Mendelevich explained that a reduction in legal abortions could lead to a rise in criminal abortions.

“We need to work on social measures, because now it is not uncommon for mothers to leave their children in garbage bins, just because they have nothing to feed the child,” Mendelevich said.

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Kuznetsova’s proposal was also vehemently opposed by Irina Kirkora, the deputy chairman of the Presidential Council for Human Rights.

“I congratulate her on the birth of her seventh child, but not everyone can have and raise so many children, both because of health and abilities,” Kirkora said. “This is a great joy, but women should be given the opportunity to receive medical care prescribed by law to prevent pregnancy.”

The battle over a woman’s right to choose is long-fought in Russia and doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon. In 2019, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, said that abortion should be banned to “increase the real population in Russia.”

Patriarch Kirill isn’t the only clergyman to oppose the legal termination of pregnancy, with controversial priest Dmitry Smirnov calling abortion the “mass murder of Russian children” and “worse than the Holocaust.” Despite pressure from the church, Russian politicians have mostly remained in favor of keeping abortion legal.

In 1920, the Russian Soviet Republic became the first country in the world to allow abortion in all circumstances. The practice was banned during the leadership of Joseph Stalin, and was quickly re-instated after his death.

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