Monday January 18, 2010

Russian Health Minister: Country Must Reduce Abortions to Boost Population

By Patrick B. Craine

MOSCOW, Russia, January 18, 2010 ( – Russia’s Health Minister has called for a reduction of abortions in the country as a way of improving its meagre population growth.

“The topic of reducing abortions is definitely on today’s agenda,” stated Health Minister Tatyana Golikova on Monday. “This won’t solve the birthrate problem 100 percent, but around 20 to 30 percent.”

In 2006, then-President Vladimir Putin identified the country’s low birth rate as its greatest problem, though he did not draw the connection with the country’s abortion rate, which is among the highest in the world. In 2005, in fact, there were more abortions than births in the country. On Monday, Golikova noted that in 2008 there were 1.714 million births and 1.234 million abortions.

In 2008, Marina Tarasova, deputy head of the St. Petersburg Research Institute for Gynecology and Obstetrics of the Russian Academy of Sciences, stated that there 5.5 million infertile couples in the country, and that the high infertility was being driven by the high abortion rate. According to the St. Petersburg Times, abortions resulted in 200,000 to 250,000 women every year losing their ability to procreate.

The country’s population has been in decline since the collapse of Communism in 1991. The government has adopted numerous measures to curtail this drop, such as issuing payouts for having babies, or awarding medals for having many children. They named 2008 “The Year of the Family,” and have even considered reviving a tax on childless citizens, which had been instituted by Stalin.

While Putin, who is now Prime Minister, announced in December that 2009 was the first year since 1995 to see a growth in population, the population only went up by about 20,000.