At the request of a Russian Orthodox Church diocese and local health officials, abortions are banned for one day in the Russian city of Yaroslavl to commemorate the “massacre of the innocents” in Bethlehem around the time of Jesus’ birth, according to RT News.
The church described January 11, 2017 as a “day of silence without abortions,” BBC News stated.
“On this day, all public health institutions of the Yaroslavl Region are prohibited to perform abortions,” the Archdiocese of Yaroslavl told RT News. “Certain events have been scheduled aimed at combating the murder of babies in the womb and protecting the priceless value of motherhood.”
The “Massacre of the Innocents” refers to King Herod’s planned execution of young boys under the age of 2 living in proximity to Bethlehem around the time of Jesus’ birth, according to the Second Chapter of the Gospel of Matthew in the Bible. Herod ordered the mass-slaughter of infants because he feared losing his coveted throne to the newborn King of the Jews, based on news delivered to him by the Magi.
The Yaroslavl diocese simultaneously plans a “Candle of Memory” event to commemorate the children whose lives ended not only under the reign of King Herod, but also due to abortion, RT News stated.
According to the Charlotte Lozier Institute, Russia has the third highest number of abortions of any country in the world; China is the first. Deputy Prime Minister for Social Affairs Olga Golodets told RT News that for every 1.9 million live births in Russia, there are 700,000 abortions.
Natalya Moskvitina, head of the Women for Life movement in Russia, cited more dire statistics in her report to RT News.
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“Seventy percent of pregnancies end in abortion. Three-quarters of marriages end in divorce during the first four years of life together,” Moskvitina said, citing figures from an Interfax report dating back to last fall. “Every three seconds a baby is killed in abortion clinics.”
According to a report in the Express, Russia performs nearly 930,000 abortions annually, down from 5.6 million in the 1960s.
Last September, Russian citizens petitioned President Vladamir Putin to consider “the end of the legal murder of children before birth,” a practice covered by state health insurance, according to the report.
However, RT News reports that a VTSIOM poll indicates 72 percent of Russians do not support state bans on abortion, and 4 percent of those polled are against abortion in all circumstances. Some Russian officials believe removing abortion from state insurance policies may be a more practical first step than a complete ban, RT News stated.
“If we manage to cut the number of abortions by 50 percent, we would have stable and powerful population growth,” Patriarch Kirill, representing the Russian Orthodox Church, told Russian Parliament in 2015, according to Christian Today.
A 50-percent reduction may generate population growth, but that number isn’t satisfactory to pro-lifers who would like to see a 100-percent end to abortion.