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3 Nov, 2023 18:05

Abortion an ‘acute’ problem in Russia – Putin

The president has proposed a range of measures to deal with the demographic situation
Abortion an ‘acute’ problem in Russia – Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday described the number of abortions in the country as a problem that may require government intervention, offering a variety of ideas on how to deal with it. The state Duma (Russian parliament) is reportedly debating a proposal that would tighten abortion restrictions.

“Of course, the problem of abortion is so acute. The question is: what to do about it?” Putin said at a meeting with the new convocation of the Civic Chamber, a 168-member consultative body charged with government oversight. 

Moscow could “ban the sale of drugs that terminate pregnancy, or improve the socio-economic situation in the country, increase the level of well-being, real wages, social services, [and] assistance to young families in purchasing housing,” the president added, noting there were many ways to “support motherhood and childhood.”

Putin cautioned that the issue may not require a government strategy, or to be handled by the National Security Council, noting that “everyone should mind their own business,” but added that he will still give it some thought, “because the issue is extremely important for the future of our state.” 

He reminded the civil society representatives that Russia underwent a birth-rate crisis in 1991 comparable to that of 1943, at the height of the Second World War, but noted that the government has done a lot in recent years to promote parenthood.

The number of abortions in Russia has decreased drastically since Putin first became president, going from 2.13 million in 2000 to 506,000 in 2022, according to official statistics. As late as 2017, the number was almost 780,000. 

A package of amendments to abortion laws, including those proposed by the Russian Orthodox Church, is currently working its way through a parliamentary committee. According to media reports last month, proposals include requiring the consent of the husband or family members before an abortion, limiting abortions to eight to 12 weeks down from the current 12-22, banning private clinics from performing the procedure, and penalizing the “encouragement” or “propaganda” of abortion.

Russia’s total fertility rate is at 1.43, which is in line with the European average but below the 2.1 required for stabilizing the population.

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