Previously, Russians could receive government-funded abortions after the first twelve weeks of pregnancy in cases of rape, when a woman had been deprived of parental rights by a court, imprisonment of the woman, or death or disability of her husband.
The only “social” condition that now remains is rape, according to Russian media sources. Women may also still obtain late-term abortions if they suffer from a life-threatening illness during the pregnancy.
Although the rule applies only to government-provided abortions, it represents another step towards restrictions on abortion that have long been sought by the current government.
In July of last year, Russian President Dmitri Medvedev signed a law requiring all abortion providers to commit 10% of their advertising to increasing awareness about the adverse health risks of abortion, which include cancer, deadly hemorrhages, and sterility. The same law prohibits abortionists from making the claim that abortion is a safe medical procedure.
Since that time, pro-life forces in Russia have pushed for greater restrictions. Legislation has been in process since mid-2011 to prohibit almost all abortions after the first trimester, require a waiting period of one week, and require women over six weeks pregnant to see an ultrasound of their unborn child before aborting.
The proposed law was approved in October of last year by the Duma, Russia’s lower legislative house, but has not passed the Federation Council, which is the upper chamber. The legislation may have been stalled be protests by Russian citizens, many of whom rely on abortion rather than contraception to escape the responsibility of parenthood.
The current government, led by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, strongly favors tighter restrictions on abortion to counteract Russia’s demographic crisis, in which the total population has fallen substantially since its peak in 1991. The nation’s high abortion rate is a major variable in that equation.