April 28, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – In a speech last week Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said that measures must be taken in the Russian Federation to boost the birth rate.

Putin said that 1.5 trillion roubles will be invested in “demography projects,” to improve the average life expectancy and to boost the birth rate by 25 to 30 percent over three years.

Following Putin’s speech, the Russian parliament, the Duma, introduced a bill to disqualify abortion as a medical service in the national health plan. It would also allow doctors to refuse to commit abortions.

“The bill aims to create the conditions for a pregnant woman to opt for giving birth,” Yelena Mizulina, head of the State Duma committee for family, women and children, said.

On Wednesday the Duma also introduced a bill to restrict advertising for abortion.

Anton Belyakov, author of the bill and deputy from the Just Russia Party faction, told journalists, “The bill also commits doctors to warn women who decided to have an abortion that it may cause infertility, death or negatively affect physical and mental health.”

Russia has the highest rate of abortion in the world at 53 abortions per 1000 women between 15 and 44, according to UN statistics. Abortion is a key issue in Russia’s plummeting population that has seen a drop from 148.5 million in 1995 to 143 million today.

Belyakov said Russia’s abortion rate is “unacceptable.” The country’s own statistics show that there are 1022 abortions committed for every 1000 births. Official numbers show between 1.6 and 1.7 million abortions per year, but unofficial estimates put it at closer to 6 million per year, 90 percent of which are done, as in most of the developed world, at the woman’s request for “social,” not medical reasons.

Commenting on Russia’s birth crisis, Larry Jacobs of the World Congress of Families NGO, said, “It’s not Russia alone that’s experiencing demographic winter.”

“Worldwide, birthrates have declined by more than 50 per cent since the late 1960s. By the year 2050, there will be 248 million fewer children under 5 years old in the world than there are today. This birth dearth will be one of the greatest challenges confronting humanity in the 21st. century.”