Wednesday, June 1, 2011

New Mizulina anti choice initiative

MOSCOW (AP) - Russia's Orthodox Church teamed with Conservative parliamentarians (actually Mizulina has a leftist record) Monday to push legislation that would radically restrict abortions in a nation struggling to cope with one of the world's lowest birthrates (2nd in a week?).

The legislation would ban free abortions at government-run clinics (it is not true) and prohibit the sale of the morning-after pill without a prescription, said Yelena Mizulina, who heads a parliamentary committee on families, women and children.

She added that abortion for a married woman would also require the permission of her spouse, while teenage girls would need their parents' consent. If the legislation is passed, a week's waiting period would also be introduced so women could consider their decision to terminate their pregnancy, Mizulina said.

During the time of the Soviet Union, abortion laws were liberal, and unrestricted termination of pregnancy became virtually the only method of family planning (absolutely incorrect). Sex education was frowned upon.

Russia's abortion rates are still among the world's highest, contributing to a fertility rate (???) of only 1.4 children per woman - far below the 2.1 needed to maintain the existing population. The rate has become a serious concern for Russia as it fights to stem a steep population decline

Mizulina said she wants to see public debate on abortions before the bill is submitted to parliament (does it mean the bill is not submitted yet?), an apparent attempt to build support after similar legislation stalled last year.

A bill proposed in late 2010 called for the criminal prosecution of doctors who end late-term pregnancies, but it faced government opposition and was never put up for a vote.

The effort to restrict abortions has strong backing from the Russian Orthodox Church, which has sought a more muscular role in society in recent years. It counts more than 100 million Russians (not orthodox) in a population of 143 million as its congregation, although polls show that only about 5 percent of Russians are observant.

"I hope that very soon we will live in a Russia without abortions," church spokesman Vsevolod Chaplin said at Monday's presentation.

According to a United Nations survey in 2004 (???), Russia had the world's highest abortion rate: 53.7 per 100 (actually per 1000!) women (34.2 in 2009).

Figures from the Russian Health Ministry suggest the rate may have declined in recent years, though it remains high: In 2009, there were 74 abortions for every 100 births in Russia, a significant drop in comparison with 169 abortions per 100 births in 2000.

The total number of abortions recorded by the Health Ministry in 2009 reached nearly 1.3 million (1,161,700, see here table 1).

Mizulina claims (lies) that the official statistics do not include pregnancies terminated at private clinics, or those stopped by morning-after pills (what is stopped in the morning after?), and the true number might be closer to 6 million (fantsy, fan to see).

She also proposed that the law be changed to allow women to leave unwanted children at orphanages anonymously without risking criminal prosecution for child abandonment (it seems like moral excellence).

It was unclear how much support the anti-abortion measures would receive in parliament.

Natalya Karpovich, a lawmaker with the dominant pro-Kremlin party United Russia, who is expecting her fifth child, said she supported stricter regulation of abortions. But she said banning the procedure in Russia was unrealistic and would only lead to more children whose parents were unwilling or unable to care for them.

1 comment:

  1. Russia at the Heels of Backtracking on Women’s Rights and Health

    by Christina Zampas, Senior Regional Manager and Legal Adviser for Europe.Center for Reproductive Rights. In 2010, a Section of the State Duma (Parliament) Committee on the Family, Women and Children Issues together with the Committee on Biomedical Ethics issued recommendations for legislative reform that would restrict access to abortion in Russia. The proposals to restrict abortion are driven by religious abortion opponents using, in part, demographic concerns as a pretext.
    They falsely proclaim that limiting access to abortion would increase birth rates. The negative population growth rates are an every increasing concern of Russian politicians, who have been working to promote pronatalist policies in hopes of increasing birth rates.
    At present, abortion in Russia is available on request during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy and is permitted “at any stage of pregnancy whenever medically indicated and with the woman’s consent.” There is a gestational limit of 22 weeks for abortion based on four social grounds. Many countries of the former Soviet Union have similar laws and Russian legal developments play a role in legislative reform in all of these countries. Many of the recommendations would severely restrict women’s access to abortion in Russia and are in conflict with women’s health and human rights and are inconsistent with legislation in most other European countries.
    Calls for restrictions include reducing abortion on request from 12 weeks to 8 weeks, which would be the shortest abortion on request period in all 47 Council of Europe member states. Abortion opponents are also calling for a mandatory waiting period of 7 days, the few countries that do have mandatory waiting periods in Europe, usually run from 2 to 3 days. This 7 days waiting period combined with a reduction to 8 weeks of abortion on request period would make it virtually impossible for women to access abortion on request. In addition, proposals are calling for instituting a spousal consent requirement, which is not required by any Council of Europe member state, with the exception of Turkey. The European Court of Human Rights has consistently upheld laws that do not require spousal consent for abortion, recognizing that women carry the burden of pregnancy and that women’s autonomy should prevail over any interests the ‘father’ may have in not having the pregnancy terminated. These are a few of the proposals being currently discussed by Russian politicians, all of which undermine women’s human rights and threaten women’s health.
    Russian politicians and government officials should remind themselves of their own history when Stalin limited access to abortion in order to increase the birth rate, to no avail. More recent experiences in Romania and Poland show that limiting access to abortion and to contraception does not increase the birth rate. In Romania, the draconian measures led to extremely high maternal mortality rates, the highest in Europe at the time, but which dropped by half after abortion was liberalized in 1990. In fact, 80 percent of maternal deaths in Romania between 1980 and 1989 were due to unsafe abortions. In Poland, the birth rate has been consistently declining since restrictions on abortion were introduced. In fact, its law on abortion, one of the most restrictive in Europe, did not stop the practice it has only led to severe violations of human rights as recognized by the European Court of Human Rights in recent cases.


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