Monday, September 22, 2008

Pro-life Light Shining in Post-Soviet Russia

A fledgling antiabortion movement is beginning to stir in Russia. Driven by a growing discussion of abortion as a moral issue and, most of all, by a government worried about demographics; doctors and politicians are quietly struggling to lower what is believed to be one of the world’s highest abortion rates.

-- From "Abortion foes begin to make their case in Russia" by Megan K. Stack, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer 9/20/08

MOSCOW — Physician Marina Chechneva remembers the old-style Russian gynecologists who worked in state hospitals and churned out back-to-back abortions like Soviet factory workers. She remembers the women who "used to use abortion as a kind of vacation, because in the U.S.S.R., they got three days off from work."

Chechneva, head researcher at the Moscow region's Institute of Gynecology and Obstetrics, performs abortions as part of her medical practice. These days, she is writing magazine articles about fetus development in hope of raising public opposition to abortion. After years of handling fetuses, she explains, she has come to feel a responsibility toward them.

The women "should realize that what they're doing is already a murder," she said.

It's an uphill struggle. Doctors say contraceptive use remains unpopular and that many Russian women rely on abortion for birth control.

The government is desperate to persuade citizens to bear more children. Russians are dying faster than they're being born, a trend that has emerged as one of the most serious challenges faced by this sprawling, scantily populated land.

"This is the decision of a lifetime," gynecologist Natalia Smirnova said. "It's very important for me to show them the ultrasound picture of their fetuses. This stops most of them."

"There were cases when I myself called her mother in another town. By appealing to her mother, her partner, the future father, you can often succeed in making her change her decision and preserve her pregnancy," [Smirnova said.]

"You kill not only a child, a living being, but a part of yourself, something that was alive in you," said Irina, a 25-year-old Muscovite who has had three abortions. The young women who were interviewed declined to give their last names. "There's a trauma and a grief you suffer. You murder a child. It was much more difficult than I expected."

"It's like a conveyor belt," she said. "Women sit next to the abortion room in a line, and it happens very quickly."

"The spiritual position," said Natalia Karpovich, a leader of the State Duma committee focused on family, women and children, "should be that this is murder and the woman who does this commits a sin. Still, I want to stress it's a woman's choice."

To read the entire article, CLICK HERE.