abortion rate

Will Russia’s restrictions on abortion boost their population?

  • by

Earlier this month the Russian government passed controversial legislation to limit women’s access to abortion.

With a rapidly declining population and the highest abortion rate in the world, the Russian authorities have placed a cap on abortions at 12 weeks and imposed waiting periods, ultrasounds and counselling on those seeking abortion.

But is this the right way to do it?

Whatever your stance on abortion, few believe a high level of abortion is a good thing. Some argue that the easier it is for a woman to get an abortion, the more likely they are to do so, but is this true?

Russia has an alarmingly high abortion rate (73/1000 births) yet it has virtually the same access to abortion as the Netherlands, which has one of the lowest rates in the world (10.4/1000).

If ease of access to abortion will increase the rate of abortion, then why the disparity?

The difference in the abortion rates of Russia and the Netherlands can be explained partly by national attitudes to contraception.

For decades abortion in Russia was almost easier to come by than contraception, with choices being limited to thick standard issue condoms or unreliable IUDs.

Yet as soon as contraception became more widely available abortion rates dropped quickly, falling by 61% between 1988 and 2001 as contraceptive use rose by 74%.

Conversely, the Netherlands have had an open attitude to contraception for decades. Publicly funded family planning, widely available contraception and concerted efforts to tackle to unwanted teenage pregnancies preceded abortion and contributed to their low termination rate.

To some it seems logical that restricting access to abortion would reduce its prevalence, but evidence from other countries suggests otherwise.

Read More »Will Russia’s restrictions on abortion boost their population?