Supposedly our days of fighting with Russia are over, but we're still sending ill tidings their way. Recently we exported one of the worst elements of American society to their country: The anti-abortion movement.
The New York Times reports that Russia's budding anti-abortion groups have been looking to the U.S. for guidance. Under Communism, the procedure was widely available, except for a period when it was restricted by Stalin in an attempt to increase the population. Abortion has been legal in Russia for years, and in 2009 1.3 million abortions were performed in a population of about 143 million.
Now the Russian Orthodox Church is backing an effort to restrict abortion rights. Activists have adopted the term "pro-life" and started picketing abortion clinics like people do in the U.S.. Several prominent politicians, along with First Lady Svetlana Medvedeva, are backing the campaign, and earlier this week legislation to curtail the right to choose was introduced in the State Duma. From The Times:
The amendments would institute a mandatory waiting period for abortions of 48 hours to one week, depending on how long the woman had been pregnant. They would also require women to sign a statement that they agreed to abortion after reading of possible negative consequences, including "the onset of infertility."
Women over six weeks pregnant would be required to see their embryo or fetus on ultrasound, hear its heartbeat and have counseling. Another amendment would restrict sale of the morning-after pill.
Russia's anti-abortion movement is still relatively small, but apparently it isn't lacking in virulent nutjobs, the foundation of any good culture war. Last year Rev. Dmitri Smirnov, a Moscow priest, said women who have abortions should be jailed for murder. He added that they should be told, "not to be worse than Himmler and Goebbels, who didn't kill their own children." Yes, you read that right. Rather than doing away with a clump of cells, you should wait a few years, have someone else murder the child, and take out millions of other people while you're at it.
There's also a racist element to the campaign. Many Russians are alarmed about the country's declining population, and at a forum organized by the group Sanctity of Motherhood, women were encouraged to have at least three children. Muslims in Russia have a high birth rate, and this, "was spoken of with some awe, both as a threat and as something to emulate."
Historically, abortion has been more acceptable in Russia than in the U.S., but these new factors may have brought about a change. Like Americans, Russians must start fighting to defend the rights they've had for years.
Image via mcseem/Shutterstock.