Russian Anti-Abortion Bill Draws Fire From Speaker, RIA Reports

Valentina Matviyenko, speaker of the Russian parliament’s upper chamber, criticized as “extremist” a bill that would remove abortions from the mandatory medical insurance coverage, RIA Novosti reported.

Lawmakers in the lower house this week proposed banning abortions at non-state clinics and removing all abortions that aren’t medically prescribed from the free state medical insurance coverage plan, the State Duma said by e-mail on Tuesday. Such measures would allow Russia to save about 5 billion rubles a year, according to the proposal. It was submitted by the Just Russia party’s Elena Mizulina, head of family and women’s issues, and United Russia’s Sergey Popov, head of the regulations committee.

President Vladimir Putin has been promoting so-called “traditional values” in part to reverse a population decline in Russia since the Soviet Union collapsed. He outlawed “gay propaganda” in 2013, raising an international outcry before the Sochi Winter Olympics, and imposed a ban on all advertising for services to terminate pregnancies. Russian Orthodox Church leader Patriarch Kirill urged lawmakers to end insurance coverage for the procedure during a Jan. 22 in a speech in parliament, where he called for Russia to halve the number of abortions.

Such “extremist” proposals as the one the Duma deputies proposed can lead to “disastrous” consequences, RIA Novosti reported, citing Matviyenko. If a woman has decided to get an abortion, Russia needs to provide her with all necessary medical and financial support and shouldn’t drive the procedure underground, the news service reported, citing the Federation Council speaker.

In addition to removing abortions from state health insurance coverage, the bill would stipulate fines for doctors who conduct abortions at non-state clinics of as much as 250,000 rubles ($5,000) and for officials and business owners of as much as to 800,000 rubles, according to the Duma proposal. Lawmakers also proposed banning sales of drugs meant to terminate pregnancies and limiting them to state clinics.

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