Igor Efremov, a Researcher at the Gaidar Institute, feels confident that new legislative restrictions on induced termination of pregnancy will only worsen the demographic situation in Russia. The RBC published the expert’s opinion.

The Russian authorities circled back to discussing restrictive measures for abortion. However, medical and demographic experts recall the negative effects of these measures: women became infertile or died fr om clandestine procedures. Thus, restricting abortion would not increase the birth rate.

“In a modern society, wh ere people are contraceptive literate and have access to contraception, there is no link between induced abortion and birth rate. Russia belongs to such countries,” says Igor Efremov.

He explained that Russian abortion statistics includes all pregnancies that did not end in childbirth, thus, the total number of abortions includes miscarriages, therapeutic abortion and other cases. Ignorance of these statistics specifics can cause belief that banning or severely restricting access to induced abortions will result in childbirth growth, Efremov assumes.

“Induced abortions requested by a female without medical indications make up a smaller part of abortions in Russia (less than 180,000 per year, according to the Ministry of Health, and their number is decreasing annually by about 10,000), which is less than 10% of the total number of pregnancies. According to these indicators, the number of abortions in Russia is no higher than in other developed countries, where induced abortions at the female’s option are legal,” the expert added.

Igor Efremov admits that strict ban on induced abortions in Russia may result in child-growth next year by dozens of thousands. However, this growth will be made up by further decline in childbirth in 2-3 years, the Gaidar Institute expert is confident. “In addition, hazardous to women’s lives and health practices of causing miscarriage, illegal induced abortions may spread, as well as infant mortality from external causes may grow,” he explained.

The demographer also highlights that logic of the development of legislation on abortion is aimed at their legalization compared to previous ban. The reverse has happened only twice: in the US last year and in Poland in 1993 and 2020. The expert explained, adding that in both cases the restrictions and bans were related to religious and political debate in society, rather than with demography.

“The ban on induced abortions in Poland since 1993 (except for medical indications and on rare other occasions) and almost a total ban since 2020 have come into effect in a period of rapid decline in the birth rate in this country. The ban in both cases did not affect the birth rate dynamics and continued to decline. In the USA, according to operational data, the ban on abortion in a large part of the states resulted only in a surge of abortion tourism between the states, as well as growth in infant mortality,” Mr. Efremov summed up.