Global Voices Online
Friday, December 1, 2006
In response to the grim economic situation, abortion was made legal in the Soviet Union in 1920. From 1936 to 1955 - under Joseph Stalin and until after his death - abortion was outlawed. In today's Russia, according to some data, abortions outnumber live births; for many women, abortion is still the primary method of birth control.
A Wikipedia article on the Russian demographics cites a 2005 Moscow News story on abortion - namely, the figures provided by Vladimir Kulakov, vice president of the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences: "About 1.6 million women had an abortion last year [in 2004], a fifth of them under the age of 18, and about 1.5 million gave birth [...]. “Many more” abortions weren’t reported."
A few weeks ago, two Russian lawmakers (Aleksandr Krutov and Nikolay Leonov of the Rodina political faction) proposed a law (RUS) that would require spousal consent before a married woman can have an abortion. The Russian blogosphere's response to the news was, quite predictably, overwhelming. Below is just a fraction of reactions, translated from Russian.
A discussion hosted by LJ user anastasija-kara:
Lawmakers have reacted to the president's call to increase birth rates in the country: a bill has been proposed at the State Duma that would make it illegal for a married woman to have an abortion without her husband's consent.
This is violation of women's rights, and I personally would come out to rally against this law in case they pass it. And along with me, real_whitecoffe will come out, and, I think, we won't be the only ones.
Men, what do you have to say?
kinoersh: If one considers it a reaction to the president's call to improve birth rates, that it is indeed outrageous. And extremely silly.
anastasija_kara: [...] But in general, do you think that it's the man who gets the last word?
kinoersh: The child is supposed to get it. Only who's gonna give it to him.
Listen, I can't come to an agreement with myself on the issue of abortion. And I wrote what's obvious. The last word here isn't with the man, of course. But still... who the hell knows...
vvp_fuck: Just another idiocy. Though I've known it for a long time that there are only fascists and sexists in the Duma, so it's not surprising. Soon they'll prohibit women from getting an education, to make them have more children. Bastards...
But actually, could someone explain to me why the hell there should be higher birth rates? No one's gonna live on the fringes, and Moscow and St. Pete are overcrowded anyway... If you ask me, the fewer the people, the more oxygen. There are enough of workers, and there'll be enough of qualified professionals once they cancel the draft... Or do they want our girls to give birth to more soldiers for them??? If they raise birth rates, we'll have unemployment in 20 years and overpopulation like in China in 50 years.
My opinion is that birth is such a natural process that NO ONE should have the right to regulate it, and especially not the president who, I'm sure, doesn't give a damn about my family and whether my kids would starve or not, etc.
Well, and the right to decide to have an abortion belongs to the woman - because she has to carry and give birth to the child, and if the husband really wants the child so badly, let him discuss it all with his wife in advance...
skotic: It has nothing to do with increasing birth rates, obviously. No one's ever going to keep the woman from getting divorced and then having an abortion. I understand it correctly, don't I: they are talking about a "husband" - not a "biological father"? If this is so, then this bill has nothing whatsoever to do with common sense. [...]
anastasija_kara: While the woman is getting divorced with her husband, the term during which she can have an abortion will be up.
arnaut_katalan: To every supporter of abortion - a free euthanasia as a gift!
nadkathegreat: To every opponent - a child from an orphanage to bring up.
inelgerdis: To give birth or not. It's important, but there's another significant aspect that makes me mad more than others. Yet again, they are trying to solve an important problem by following the simplest [...] path - the path of bans and restrictions.
Take the kids' financial aid as an example. Hello, you, those who are arguing here, do you remember how much we receive? A friend of mine, for instance, became a widowlast year, with a 10-year-old daughter to raise. And how much money do you think she was given? Bear in mind that it's he pension given due to "the loss of a bread-winner" - no less. Slightly more than 2,000 rubles ($75) a month. Is that serious?
And so instead of working on implementation of such truly important things as normal aid, benefits, [...], etc. - all that would be helpful to mothers - this imbecile just proposes a ban. [...] It's easier to ban [...]. And those long-term mother-and-child programs - they are tiresome.
If the social sector was developed normally here, there wouldn't be reasons to have abortions. There won't be as many of them, that is. So few that such disgusting bills wouldn't be able to reach the surface.
boozsel: The Middle Ages. [...] I'm for women and their rights because I myself would be scared to give birth [...].
Another discussion at journalist Natalya Radulova's blog (LJ user radulova):
vasinamama: I "admire" our State Duma. Uneducated, irresponsible, cynical - but so proactive.
radulova: We have what we've elected.
vasinamama: Something's telling me that you didn't vote for Rodina. Nor did I. The cruel laws of democracy are working against us.
darlya: Our votes - do they have influence on anything? Don't make me laugh.
а разве наши голоса на что-то влияют? не смешите.
ximerka: The only thing they'd increase this way would be the number of illegal abortions.
prosto_alyssa: And the number of divorces!
prosto_alyssa: I wonder - and what if the husband wants his wife to have an abortion - would they be forcing her to?
LJ user mar-palna's blog:
rushana: They'll never adopt it. Like the Middle Ages, really. Though, of course, it's easier to ban abortions than pay normal salaries and give apartments to new families.
LJ community ru_politics, LJ user zebra24:
[Inspired by] by the latest news [...], I propose a national project of fighting fools.
We can start with the Duma - with PM Krutov, for example: I propose to castrate him. It won't, of course, solve the problem of fools right away, but at least we can expect that in the next generation, there'll be fewer fools.
The advantages are obvious and expenses minimal, and though the problem with human rights remains, PM Krutov knows nothing about [human rights], so it'll be a shame if we don't use it.
And in general, since our Duma isn't a place for discussions, I propose to castrate legislators for the silly things they say. It'll be especially relevant for [LDPR] and Rodina factions, but the [United Russia] won't be left too far behind.
By the way, there's one more option - not to elect [politicians] like that anymore, but I'm afraid that since our democracy is so very sovereign, the Kremlin's "democrats" aren't going to ask us who to elect and who not to elect.
perceptron: But the essence of Krutov's proposal is such that if you use it with your proposal, it'll turn out that it's only be possible to castrate him with his wife's permission.
vasimv: It's okay. We'll hold a referendum. They've cancelled the minimal turnout requirement, so if you alone show up - there's a chance [for the vote to be considered legitimate] :)