Abortions Decline in Russia as More Women Turn to the Pill

  • 15 May 2002

The number of abortions carried out in Russia has witnessed a sharp drop in recent years, thanks to a growing use of contraceptives prompted by a government family planning campaign.

The number of terminated pregnancies is down by around one third compared with the early 1990s. That improvement began with the decision of the Russian authorities to offer free contraceptive pills in the 1990s, said Inna Alesina, an official with the Russian family planning agency.

In the past, the pills had been widely regarded as dangerous for women’s health in Russia and the agency, responsible, among other things, for distributing contraceptives, was only founded in 1994.

Abortion, which remains high, has been the traditional form of birth control in Russia where 2.14 million such interventions were carried out in 2000, according to official statistics.

Cost has been a major factor that encouraged the high rate of abortion in Russia. While abortions in state hospitals are relatively cheap and easy to obtain, individuals buying contraceptive pills spend between 150 and 200 rubles (US$4.9 to $6.5) per month, a significant expenditure from the average monthly salary of 1,500 rubles ($50 dollars) in the country.

Many women also turn to abortion because a lot of Russian men refuse either to use contraceptives or condoms or to take care of children they father, according to family planning officials.

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