Abortion has become such a pervasive form of birth control that the nation is seeing worker and population shortages that are already beginning to take an economic toll. The nation’s Duma is considering legislation to address the problem.
“The bill aims to create the conditions for a pregnant woman to opt for giving birth. We have public support but does the ruling party hear us?” Yelena Mizulina, head of the State Duma committee for family, women and children told the Ria Novosti news outlet.
The bill makes it so abortion would no longer be qualified as a medical service under the nation’s government-run health system, thus allowing physicians to opt out of doing them. The measure would also increase the monthly payments to pregnant women from the current 2,000 rubles ($70) a month until birth. The legislation could also make it illegal to do abortions in the second half of pregnancy.
“Doctors’ consent to do such operations is not the only problem. There are social and legal reasons behind the woman’s choice,” Mizulina said.
In a speech late last week, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin pledged to raise the nation’s birthrate by up to 30% in just three years. Due to a rapidly falling fertility, Russia has experienced a dramatic population decline, going from 148.5 million people in 1995 to 143 million today despite efforts by various governments to boost the birth rate. Unofficial estimates indicate that there are nearly 4 million abortions per year in Russia yet only 1.7 million live births.
Putin’s plan calls for spending the equivalent of 33 billion pounds to encourage Russian families to have more children. But World Congress of Families director Larry Jacobs says that more than cash incentives and government benefits will be needed to raise Russia’s well-below-replacement birth rate.
Against this underpopulation backdrop, the World Congress of Families will hold the world’s first demographic summit – “Moscow Demographic Summit: Family and the Future of Humankind” – at the Russian State Social University (RSSU), June 29-30.
RSSU is one of Russia’s largest public universities, with over 100,000 students, and the nation’s leading institution for educating social workers.
Jacobs noted the Summit comes at a crucial time. “It’s not Russia alone that’s experiencing demographic winter,” Jacobs observed.
“Worldwide, birthrates have declined by more than 50% since the late 1960s. By the year 2050, there will be 248 million fewer children under 5 years-old in the world than there are today. This birth dearth will be one of the greatest challenges confronting humanity in the 21st century,” he said.
Jacobs noted: “The Summit will include discussions of The Demographic Potential of Russia – The Importance of Pro-Family Public Policy in Russia and the West – Demographic Indicators of Developed and Developing Nations – The Crisis of Family: Marriage, Abortion, Contraception – Population Control – Influence of Demographics on Economic Processes – Human Capital and Family-Friendly Business Practices – Population Aging and Ways to Overcome Demographic Challenges.”
An array of prominent Russian speakers will include: Metropolitan Hilarion (Foreign Affairs coordinator of the Russian Orthodox Church), Dr. Zhukov V.I. (Rector of RSSU), Bishop Panteleimon (Russian Orthodox Church Social and Charitable Activities), Fr Dimitry Smirnov (ROC – Bioethics Commission), Natalia Yakunina (Sanctity of Motherhood Program, Center of National Glory), Fr Maxim Obukhov (ROC – Pro-Life Activities), Rostislav Ordovsky-Blanco (owner of Rosinter restaurant chain), Fr Vsevolod Chaplin (Relations of ROC and Society), Professor Anatoly Antonov (demographer, Moscow State Lomonosov University) and Igor Beloborodov, PhD (Institute of Demographic Research).
International Speakers confirmed include: Anna Zaborska (Member EU Parliament), Allan Carlson, Larry Jacobs and Don Feder (World Congress of Families), Patrick Fagan (Family Research Council), Steven Mosher (Population Research Institute), Philip Longman (New America Foundation), and Janice Shaw Crouse (Concerned Women for America).
Invited speakers include demographers, sociologists, economists, scholars, elected officials and leaders from around the world.