A veiled ban on abortion in Russia
On the 7th of July, Valery Draganov, a member of the Russian Federation's Chamber of Deputies (Duma), introduced a bill on the "prevention of abortion and support for a child's life before as well as after birth". The proposed bill, which includes changes to the law "on the fundamental rights of children in the Russian Federation", "on the licensing of drugs" and "on advertising", proposes also a ban on abortion sooner than forty-eight hours since a woman is admitted to hospital, "in order to allow [her] a more balanced decision"; furthermore, the bill would give doctors the power not to carry out abortions, based on their religious beliefs, except where the procedure were necessary for medical reasons and another doctor could not be found. For married women, the husband would have to write a statement of consent.
Furthermore, it is proposed that the State exercises further control on private clinics where abortions are practiced, through the addition of a paragraph in the law "on the licensing of drugs" whereby drugs used for abortion be approved only by prescription from the clinic where the woman is admitted, and whereby all advertising on abortion services or drugs be banned.
Draganov is a spokesperson for the "United Russia" party (founded in 2001 by Vladimir Putin), however his bill seems to be identical to the one presented a few weeks earlier by the deputy Elena Misulina from the party "A Fair Russia" (founded in 2006 from the merging of "Motherland", "The Life Party", and "The Pensioners Party"): both seem to put themselves up as defenders of the most repressive requests from the Russian Orthodox Church.
Women's rights activists and feminist associations have organized protests in Moscow and St. Petersburg with the slogan "fight abortion, not women" and have started collecting online signatures to ask parliamentarians to reject clerical precepts in such matters. The petition also contains a negative criticism of the proposed bill, which is seen as a violation of Russian women's human rights and which would cause an increase in the number of illegal abortions; the petition also advises the implementation of a scientific approach to reduce the number of abortions and the monitoring of the implementation of the World Health Organisation's recommendations, specifically in order to make abortion safer for women.
(English translation by Francesco Sani)