Russia’s Medvedev Signs New Law Regulating Abortion

Posted July 15th, 2011 at 3:45 pm (UTC-5)
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Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has signed a new law that restricts abortion in the country for the first time since the fall of communism.

Until now, abortion has been mostly unrestricted in Russia.

But the law signed by Mr. Medvedev on Thursday was seen by some as possibly the first in a series of restrictions on the practice in Russia, which has one of the highest abortion rates in the world. Russian authorities say abortion has contributed to the country's declining population, now about 143 million people, down nearly six million since the fall of the Soviet Union two decades ago.

Russian officials say the new law is aimed at protecting the health of women. The changes require abortion providers to devote 10 percent of any advertising to warn potential clients of the possible health hazards of the procedure.

Russia has a liberal abortion policy, allowing the free procedure at any licensed medical clinic in the country. But the policy has come under attack from right-to-life conservatives and the Russian Orthodox Church.

Russia currently reports more deaths than births each year. Mr. Medvedev has made the fight against Russia's falling birthrate and plunging population one of the key goals of his presidency.

The New York Times reports that Mr. Medvedev's wife, Svetlana Medvedeva, has also taken up the cause. She is trying to reduce the number of abortions by starting a “Give Me Life!” campaign with brochures and an Internet site to promote a “week against abortion.”

A 2004 United Nations survey showed Russia with the highest abortion rate in the world with 53.7 per 100 women. The rate may have declined in recent years, but the country's health ministry recorded nearly 1.3 million abortions in 2009.