More Abortions Than Births in Russia — Health Official
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More Abortions Than Births in Russia — Health Official

MosNews | August 23, 2005

Russians, whose lives are shorter and poorer than they were under communism, have more abortions than births to avoid the costs of raising children, reported Tuesday quoting the country’s highest-ranking obstetrician.

About 1.6 million women had an abortion last year, a fifth of them under the age of 18, and about 1.5 million gave birth, said Vladimir Kulakov, vice president of the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences. “Many more” abortions weren’t reported.

“The appearance of a first child pushes many families into poverty,” Kulakov said today in the government’s official newspaper, Rossiskaya Gazeta. “Potential parents first try to start a career, stand on their feet and so forth.”

The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the ensuing hyperinflation and depression deprived millions of Russians of their incomes and savings and discouraged couples from having children. By 2000, the number of pensioners in Europe’s most populous country outnumbered children and adolescents for the first time.

The increase in poverty and the decline in the quality of health care since the fall of communism have left about six million women and 4 million men — seven percent of Russia’s 145 million people — incapable of having children.

“This is a critical level,” Kulakov said.

Part of the problem is a lack of job prospects. Careers traditionally favored by Russian women, such as in education and medicine, no longer pay a decent salary, which leads to fewer births and ultimately a smaller population, Kulakov said.

For every 1,000 Russians there are 16 deaths and just 10.6 births, a gap that isn’t being filled by immigrants, leading to a population decline of about 750,000 to 800,000 a year.

Out of every 1,000 Russian newborn babies, more than 12 die before they are one year old, an infant mortality rate five times higher than in Iceland and three to four times higher than in Finland, Sweden, Spain and France, Russia’s Federal Statistics Service reported last week.

The average Russian man now dies at 58.8, the shortest life expectancy in Europe and five years fewer than 15 years ago, the Statistics Service said. Russian women have the fourth-lowest life expectancy in Europe, 72 years, the service said, citing its own data and figures from the World Health Organization and European Union.


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