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These measures include post abortion healing; male responsibility; comprehensive sexual/reproductive health education; all voluntary pregnancy prevention methods, plus rape and incest prevention & treatment; and life-affirming ways to get through crisis pregnancy and beyond.

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Tuesday, December 2, 2008

From the Annals of What's Wrong With This Picture?

This from Russia Today by way of ASTRA:

Novorossiysk, a city located in Southern Russia near the Black Sea, had the final say in the pro-choice vs. pro-life abortion debate. From the 24th to the 28th of November the city will conduct a "week without abortion". This means that doctors will not conduct termination operations, apart from "the most extreme cases".

At the same time, Novorossiysk's maternity welfare centre will hold open days during which information seminars on family planning will take place and "educational" films will be shown. Psychologists and gynaecologists will work with pregnant women in order to fully prepare them for motherhood. The city's universities will screen films, demonstrating the detrimental effects abortions may have.

A representative of the city's administration said that "doctors will do everything they can to stop women from doing the irreparable".

A hotline will operate in Novorossiysk over the course of the week, intended for pregnant women. Using it, they will be able to easily get in touch with leading gynaecological experts in Novorossiysk. The "week without abortions" was specifically timed to coincide with the Russian Day of Motherhood, which happens on the last Sunday of November every year.

The number of abortions in Russia is amongst the highest in the world. Nearly 70% of pregnancies are terminated. In 2004 the number of abortions in Russia surpassed the number of births by 100,000. According to the statistics published by the national centre of gynaecology and midwifery, around 10-15% of abortions in Russia have complications, leaving 7-8% of operated women sterile. In Western Europe there is, on average, 12 abortions per 1,000 women a year, UN statistics say. In Russia that number stands at 54.

2008 was declared to be the “Year of Family” by the Russian government, with the intention of improving the demographic situation in the country. The propaganda of abortions and their advertising has recently been banned in the Russian media. Other policies intended to boost childbirth in Russia have included welfare payments for childbirth, social advertisements and active improvements of the healthcare system.

Some creative programmes organised by local authorities included a day specifically dedicated to "child making". The Novorossiysk city administration insured that people were let off work early on that day in order to give them more time to boost the demographic situation in the country. A similar event took place in Ulyanovsk, a city in Southwestern Russia. Here, the local authorities went as far as timing the day to be exactly 9 months before The Day of Russia, with the intention of having an influx of new patriots as a result.

Recently, reports have been made that the government's policies have had little effect on increasing the country's population. According to some studies, the growing global financial crisis places people under stress, making them more reluctant to have children.

These very high abortion rates are an unfortunate legacy of Soviet times, when the state viewed ready access to abortion as a means of keeping women in the workforce without needing to make effective and usable means of contraception widely available, promoting male responsibility within families, or resort to other serious measures for preventing abortion. In the early days after the Revolution, it was hoped that family planning would replace abortion, but the state relied so much on abortion and valued women's and children's lives so little that this did not happen.

In present-day, post-Soviet Russia, there is some movement to prevent abortions. But the paradigm remains the same, doesn't it, as under Soviet rule: women and children are properties of the state, to be manipulated to the outcomes that the state prefers, whatever those outcomes may be. The concern is upping the birthrate, not protecting individual children's and women's rights to life and wellbeing.

Any efforts to oppose and reduce abortion are in the end ineffective and morally and politically bankrupt if they are not solidly grounded in these universal human rights. Something for abortion opponents in every nation to consider, if they have not done so already.

It shouldn't be about making women procreate. It should be about ensuring that women have as much say as possible in whether and when (if ever) to conceive, about revering their lives and the lives of any children they may conceive, whether or not according to plan, before, during, and ever after birth.

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