Russia Health Minister Suggests Cutting Abortions to Combat Underpopulation

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 18, 2010   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Russia Health Minister Suggests Cutting Abortions to Combat Underpopulation

by Steven Ertelt Editor
January 18
, 2010

Moscow, Russia ( — A top health minister in Russia suggests the nation should consider cutting abortions to combat its problems of underpopulation. The Russian nation is desperately in need of people as the prevalence of abortions has caused such severe problems that it has ravaged the nation’s workforce.

Underpopulation is rampant in Russia, which is seeing worker shortages that are hampering the economy and companies across the country. The nation’s population shrank by 12 million people in the last 16 years alone.

While some government-sponsored efforts have helped, the troubled economy and continued abortions are crippling the country.

Health Minister Tatyana Golikova said the Russian government is meeting to determine how to reduce abortions.

"The topic of reducing abortions is definitely on today’s agenda. This won’t solve the birthrate problem 100 percent, but around 20 to 30 percent," Russian news agencies indicated Golikova saying.

Golikova said there were 1.714 million births in Russia in 2008 but 1.234 million abortions as the country continued having one of the highest abortion rates in the world along with other eastern European nations.

The federal and local governments have sponsored everything from educational campaigns to contests to direct cash payments for parents of newborn children to spark a birth rate increase.

Posters carry nationalistic slogans, such as a picture of a woman with three children and the words "Love for your nation, starts with the family."

In January, President Dmitry Medvedev said the efforts had been successful, with the birth rate up 8 percent in 2008 and six percent in 2009.

Late last year, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin announced a birth rate increase. But it doesn’t take a mantic person to see future declines resulting from a poor economy that is prompting Russian women to continue having abortions at high rates.

A recent United Nations report indicates the Russian population will fall from 142 million in 2008 to 116 million by 2050 unless action is taken.

"At this rate, the crisis could reduce to nothing all the government’s efforts of the last years to stimulate births," Valentina Petrenko, head of Russian upper house’s committee for social policy and health, told AFP. "The risk of losing employment is in a big way linked to pregnancy and caring for young children. Expectant mothers and women, as a rule, are the first to be laid off."

A May 2009 poll of Russian women confirmed the problem. Just five percent say they plan to have a baby in the next two years.

AFP interviewed Andrei Akopyan, the head doctor at one of Moscow’s abortion centers, who predicted more abortions given the economy.

Khazem Alsoabi, an abortion practitioner, agreed.

"There are, of course, already more women who want to have abortions," Alsoabi said. "The reasons I hear are financial, there’s no question of that."

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