Over the long term, Russia’s birth rate is evolving in the same way as in most other industrialised countries. In the mid-1960s, the cultural revolution of birth control meant the total fertility rate fell below the replacement level of 2.1 children per woman. The only difference from the West was a lack of availability of contraception: the authorities were suspicious of the pill, so Russian women had to resort to abortion, first legalised in 1920, then outlawed by Stalin in 1936, then legalised again from 1955. Statistics remained secret until 1986, but it is estimated that there were 5.4m terminations in the Russian Federation in 1965, and more than four per woman until the mid-1970s. Contraception only became widely available after the end of the Soviet Union. Since 2007 the number of abortions has fallen to below the number of births, and continues to fall (1.29m in 2009).
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