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Russian Demographic Situation Worsening – Abortions Outstrip Births

MOSCOW, August 24, 2005 ( – Financial pressures are pushing Russian women to abortion at a much higher rate than was previously thought. For the first time, Russian abortions have exceeded births and the rate shows no sign of slowing in the perennially unstable Russian economy.

The economic situation for most in Russia is dire, and, says Vladimir Kulakov, vice president of the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences, the birth of a first child can push young couples into poverty. With a population half the size of the US, in 2004, Russian women had 24% more abortions than their American counterparts.

About 1.6 million women had an abortion last year, a fifth of them under the age of 18, and only about 1.5 gave birth, according to Kulakov.

Not only that, but rampant abortion and environmental damage have rendered huge numbers of Russians infertile. Kulakov told the government newspaper that about 6 million women and 4 million men, about 7 % of Russia's population are incapable of having children. The birth rate and the life expectancy of Russians are so low that Vladimir Putin called it a “national problem” in a televised address in April.

Combined with a significantly shorter life expectancy than most western countries – men die at about age 58 – and extremely high infant mortality rates, the demographic collapse warned of in most parts of Europe is coming to fruition much sooner in Russia.

Similar demographic problems are being experienced in Canada and other industrialized western countries but the effects on population are masked by high levels of immigration which Russia does not enjoy. Russia's population is declining by 750,000 to 800,000 a year.

The Mary Mother of God Mission Society, which includes both priests and a burgeoning association of sisters, reports that from their work in Vladivostok on the far east coast of Siberia, they experience the consequences of soviet anti-family policies up close. 

The Society operates a crisis pregnancy centre and post-abortion counseling service in Vladivostok along with a number of social programmes for elderly and youth. Rev Myron Effing, writing from Siberia, describes conditions of almost unimaginable suffering, where some women have had as many as 30 abortions because of a lack hope for the future.

The Russian government, however, continues to allow abortion and sterilization is legal and though it is pledging to increase healthcare funding the Russian medical community continues to offer abortions with few restrictions.

The government also severely restricts working visas to those seeking to enter the country to do religious work, including pro-life work and education.

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Read previous coverage:
Russian Abortion Killing and Sterilizing Millions; Demographic Collapse Likely to be Worse than Previously Predicted

Read the Vladivostok Sunrise, newsletter of the Mary Mother of God Mission Society



Copyright © 2004 Victor Claveau. All Rights Reserved