ISSN 2409-2274

Abortation in Post-Soviet Russia: is there any reason for optimism?

Boris Denisov1, Viktoria Sakevich 1

  • 1 National Research University Higher School of Economics, 20 Myasnitskaya Str., Moscow, 101000, Russian Federation

2014, no1, pp. 144–169


The paper considers the problem of abortion in modern Russia. Using official statistics we analyze the dynamics of the main abortion indicators since the early 1990s. On the basis of representative national sample surveys we conclude that official statistics are complete and reliable. This in turn confirms the steady decline of abortions during the post-Soviet years.

A particularly rapid decline in abortions is seen among the youngest women. Modern teenagers have fewer abortions than their predecessors at this age. The current level of induced abortions in women under age 20 in Russia today is less than in England, Sweden, France and a number of other developed countries of European culture.

The major differentiating factor for frequency of abortion is age. There are no clear correlations between the risks of abortion in Russia and the standard social characteristics (income, type of settlement, education).

Despite the positive trend, Russia remains one of the countries with the highest abortion rates in the world. The country’s turn to traditional values and the allegedly growing role of religion are inadequate mechanisms to reduce abortions. Government support is given not to proven, evidence-based measures like the promotion of family planning, sex education, etc., but to repression and restrictions. During the past 10-15 years a number of restricting amendments have been introduced into legislation. The authors indicate the counterproductive effects of these restrictions on abortion as an instrument of a pronatalist population policy.

The article recommends paying more attention to improvements in the quality of abortion provision by the introduction of modern medical standards and protocols.

In conclusion, the authors suggest ways to improve the official statistics of abortions. 


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Keywords: pregnancy termination; abortion; birth control; family planning; reproductive health