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Russian Patriarch Kirill of Moscow

MOSCOW, Russia, May 19, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — The Russian Orthodox Church is again calling upon the nation's government to make abortion illegal.

Archimandrite Theothilactes addressed Parliament's Commission for the Protection of Christian Values at their first session of the new State Duma. He advised the commission to make an abortion ban the top legislative priority.

“Abortion must be made equal to murder,” the Patriarch’s representative urged. “Attention must be paid to this bill and eventually it must be passed.”

The Commission for the Protection of Christian Values is a lower house coalition of 46 members of Parliament coming together to make sure Russian laws conform to Biblical standards of morality and decency. New laws are proposed and existing laws are evaluated for their impact on Russian society in terms of Christian values.

In Archimandrite Theothilactes’ address to the commission, he also criticized a Russian law prohibiting parents from spanking or physically disciplining their children. He said that law should be eliminated because it contradicts the Holy Scripture.

“We should not allow any bans on traditional upbringing in a Christian family, and any attempts to make children equal to parents,” Theothilactes said. “We need to introduce amendments to this law.”

Abortion was legalized under Communism and became the standard method of birth control. Russia still has one of the highest rates of abortion per capita in the world, and most abortions are tax-funded.

With the fall of Communism, the Orthodox Church gained prominence in society and influence in government. Vladimir Putin has repeatedly championed laws that reflect Christian values.

In January 2015, Patriarch Kirill addressed the entire State Duma for the first time, calling for a legislative campaign against abortion.  

Kirill sought to reason with non-Christian members of Parliament on the basis of Russia's serious dying population. “If we manage to cut the number of abortions by 50 percent, we would have stable and powerful population growth,” His All-Holiness said.

“The argument that an abortion ban would cause an increase in the number of underground abortions is pure nonsense,” Kirill added. “People have to pay money for these operations and our task is to make the price of a legal infanticide the same as of the illegal one. Taxpayers must not pay for this.”

The Patriarch's stated goal is a total nationwide ban on abortions, but he urged lawmakers to start by taking abortion coverage out of the state's obligatory health insurance program. He also urged lawmakers to favor adoption and discourage surrogacy.

In May 2015, several members of Parliament responded by banding together to draft a bill limiting state insurance payments for abortions and banning private abortuaries.  Their legislation also restricted abortifacient contraceptives.

Significantly, members of Parliament also pushed for a law requiring ultrasounds for all women seeking an abortion. They reasoned that “according to statistics, up to 80 percent of women change their decision to abort when they see their child on the screen.”

In 2013, the Russian Parliament passed and Putin signed a law banning ads for abortion.