Russia -- March 1999 -- Since the break up of the Soviet Union, Russia has finally seen a reduction in the number of abortions per year. They have cut the number of abortions nearly in half and improved the country's once-dismal infant and maternal mortality rates.
The New York Times reports that abortion was once the primary -- and sometimes only -- means of contraception under Communism: abortions outnumbered live births roughly two to one. But the number of abortion procedures performed in Russia fell from 4.6 million in 1988 to 2.5 million in 1997. And, since legal abortions account for about one-third of maternal deaths, that number has fallen from 70 per 100,000 births in 1993 to 50 per 100,000 in 1998.
Despite progress in decreasing the abortion rate, the government's efforts have been hampered by "Russian nationalists and their Communist allies," who view the drop in the country's birthrate as part of "a plot to smother Russia in its cradle."
Pro-life leaders in Russia welcome the abortion reductions but noted work on reducing abortion the prevalence of abortion in Russia was far from complete.
Russian Orthodox priest Rev. Maksim Obukhov, "whose parish has become the anti-abortion movement's headquarters," said, "Abortion in this country had become a normal state of affairs, and there were many women who had five or six without any hesitation. ... Abortion is a tradition, handed down by mothers, even grandmothers" (Bohlen, New York Times, 3/29).