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30 Mar, 2021 14:30

Number of abortions in Russia drops by close to 40% over course of five years, as fall in birth rate levels off, deputy PM reveals

Number of abortions in Russia drops by close to 40% over course of five years, as fall in birth rate levels off, deputy PM reveals

Officials in Moscow have reported a sharp drop in the number of women terminating their pregnancies in recent years, as the average age of Russian mothers grows older and the country’s declining birth rate begins to stabilize.

Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova announced on Tuesday that the number of abortions recorded had fallen by 39% since 2016. “These are serious numbers,” she said, adding that she believes this could continue to decline still further in the future.

At the same time, she said, Russia’s population was showing signs of emerging from a long-running decline. “If, in 2019, the decline in the rate of births was around 8%, then in 2020, that figure is already down to 3%,” she revealed.

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According to her, 1.4 million children were born in the country over the course of last year, and the average age of first-time mothers was rising. “The largest number of first children were born to mothers aged 27 to 28,” Golikova said. “The average age at birth of the first children is gradually shifting towards 30.”

Earlier this month, a group of Russian MPs proposed a new bill that would ban private clinics from offering terminations to pregnant women, making the procedures the sole purview of state-run facilities. Inga Yumasheva from the ruling United Russia party claimed that the move would “significantly improve both the [abortion] statistics and the understanding of the reasons why a woman takes such a step.”

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On the same day, another United Russia MP, Vladimir Krupennikov, called for toughening rules around the promotion of abortion, such as by banning materials that say termination of pregnancy is safe.

In 1920, Soviet Russia became the first country in the world to legalize voluntary terminations of pregnancies, but the procedures have been banned, re-legalized and seen changing legislation in the time since. Elective terminations are currently legal up to the twelfth week of pregnancy.

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