an After abortion

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Monday, August 25, 2003

After decades, Russia narrows grounds for abortion.

"Russia's abortion regulations remain permissive there are still no limits on abortions in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy but the new restrictions appear to reflect the first stirrings of a wider debate here over the morality of abortion, as well as the effect abortions are having on women's health and on the demographic future of Russia.

Ever since 1955, when the Soviet Union lifted a ban that had been imposed by Stalin in 1936, abortion here has been a common and widely accepted means of birth control, giving Russia one of the highest abortion rates in the world.

The collapse of the Soviet Union and with it the increased availability of contraceptives has resulted in a substantial decline in abortions in Russia from a high of 4.6 million in 1988 to 1.7 million last year. But now the Ministry of Health, under pressure from conservative lawmakers, has decided to reduce the number further through government-imposed restrictions on what has effectively been free and virtually unlimited access to abortion.

Anatoly A. Korsunsky, the Health Ministry's chief of maternity and childhood health, said in an interview that the new restrictions had been carefully weighed, taking into account the risks abortions carry for a woman's health. Abortions in the later stages of pregnancy and repeated abortions, which are common here, pose the greatest risks to fertility and health generally, he said. "

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