Bulgaria Lawmakers Target High Abortion Rates, Underpopulation Problems

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 17, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Bulgaria Lawmakers Target High Abortion Rates, Underpopulation Problems

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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
August 17, 2006

Sophia, Bulgaria (LifeNews.com) — Lawmakers in the eastern European nation of Bulgaria have approved measures to target the nation’s out of control abortion rate, which has caused it severe underpopulation problems. The country has long had more abortions than births and was previously estimated to lose as much as 40 percent of its population.

The Bulgaria cabinet approved a strategy to target population issues by 2020.

The plan includes measures to reduce the number of abortions, lower infant mortality rates and raise literacy levels, Bulgarian news agency BTA reported.

The number of abortions compared to 1,000 births was 750 in 2001 but at its worst in the 1990s, the health ministry reported 93,540 abortions were carried in one year compared to 72,188 births.

Having a baby in Bulgaria became a costly decision and abortions were seen as a method of birth control and much cheaper to afford. Forty percent of women in Bulgaria have had an abortion compared to 20-30 percent in most industrialized nations.

"My salary amounts to 130 German marks (72 dollars) and my husband, who is an engineer, is unemployed," a 32 year-old woman told the French Press Agency. "One bag of powdered milk costs 17 marks and a baby stroller 160 marks. How can we even dream of having children?"

"I regretted having an abortion because I was dreaming of having another child," another woman said. "But how can I afford a maternity leave when we don’t have enough money even though my husband and I work."

In the late 1990s, only Russia and Romania had more abortions and both countries face the same underpopulation problems. Abortions have only decreased in recent years because so many Bulgarian women have moved to other countries.

Using contraception isn’t an option either as most women and couples can’t afford birth control drugs because of the immense poverty there.

The birth rate in Bulgaria was onetime at 7.89 births per 1,000 residents, the lowest percentage in Europe.

The infant mortality rate has also been a problem and it was 12.3 per 1000 in 2003. Officials hope to lower it to 9.5 per 1000 by 2015.

Through the new strategy, which also includes plans to help the country’s aging population, the Cabinet plants to create better child-raising conditions and to work to lower migration from villages to cities.