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28 Oct, 2023 00:39

Russia to debate church’s radical new abortion proposal

The plan reportedly involves stricter time limits and a requirement for the consent of family members
Russia to debate church’s radical new abortion proposal

The Russian State Duma Health Committee will consider changes to the abortion laws that would significantly tighten them, RBK news reported on Friday, citing sources in the parliament.

A package of amendments reportedly developed by the Russian Orthodox Church was presented by committee member Veronika Vlasova at a panel on the situation regarding abortion in Russia. 

The initiative proposes requiring the consent of a woman’s family members before the procedure, according to the Parliamentary Gazette. If a woman is married, the “informed consent” of her husband would be required as well. For underage girls, approval from at least one of the parents would be needed. The current laws allow the decision to be made without anyone else’s input or approval.

The amendments would also ban abortions after eight weeks of pregnancy, from the current 12, and allow rape victims to request the procedure at up to 12 weeks, down from the current 22.

Women would also have to go through mandatory pre-abortion counseling, including a demonstration of the baby’s beating heart during an ultrasound scan, and extend the required “contemplation period” from the current 48 hours to one week.

Private clinics would be banned from performing abortions, while the “encouragement” or “propaganda” of abortion would be subject to administrative penalties, including fines. Punishments for illegally performed abortions would be increased as well.

According to RBK, the committee intends to review the proposed amendments within a month. After that, it could be presented to the State Duma for a general debate and a potential floor vote.

Russia has repeatedly seen calls to tighten its rather liberal abortion laws. The children’s rights commissioner in the Republic of Tatarstan, Irina Volynets, proposed banning private clinics from performing the procedure last month. The Duma turned down her proposal, arguing that it could lead to a surge in underground abortions and a rise in mortality.

In August, the Republic of Mordovia became the first Russian region to officially ban the “promotion” of abortion. Encouraging women to terminate their pregnancy, or pressuring her relatives to encourage her to do so, will now result in fines in Mordovia.