The Icon of Our Lady of ‘Childbirth’ or Procreation and Mothering. Russian Orthodox Church. This wood-mounted, foil icon depicts the Theotokos with Christ in her womb. It is customarily given to expecting mothers to remind them to pray to the Theotokos for a safe, healthy childbirth.
On November 24, LifeNews.com reported that the Russian city of Novorossiysk was ‘starting a campaign called a “Week Without Abortions.” The idea is to temporarily prohibit abortions in the city and encourage couples to have children in an effort to combat the growing underpopulation problem’.
In a September 20, 2008 Los Angeles Times article, Abortion foes begin to make their case in Russia, Megan K. Stack reports that “A fledgling anti-abortion movement is beginning to stir in Russia. Driven by a growing discussion of abortion as a moral issue and, most of all, by a government worried about demographics, doctors and politicians are quietly struggling to lower what is believed to be one of the world’s highest abortion rates.”
According to the article the following pro-life changes are making their way into Russian society:
- The government recently imposed new restrictions on the procedures after the 12th week of pregnancy, and toughened the language of a waiver women must sign before terminating a pregnancy.
- Late-term abortions used to be easily accessible on “social” grounds: A woman merely had to visit a social worker, complain that she wouldn’t be able to raise a child, and she could collect a stamped waiver. These days, exceptions are available only for extreme circumstances, such as the sudden death of a husband or a medical emergency.
- Many gynecologists have launched their own small efforts to persuade patients to go through with their pregnancies. Although law requires parental consent only for girls younger than 16, many doctors boast that they involve the parents of any patient younger than 19. Gynecologist Natalia Smirnova even stated: “This is the decision of a lifetime. It’s very important for me to show them the ultrasound picture of their fetuses. This stops most of them.”
- Natalia Karpovich, who is pregnant with her fifth child and is a leader of the State Duma committee focused on family, women and children, is one of the Russian lawmakers who doesn’t think that abortion should be so casual. The spiritual position,” she said, “should be that this is murder and the woman who does this commits a sin.” She is pushing for media messages that warn women about the consequences of abortion such as infertility and damage to the body. She also supports new measures meant to encourage childbirth by paying cash bonuses and opening new day-care centers across the country.
- What is most surprising is that some of the doctors who used to perform abortions are now the ones trying to dissuade women from getting them. One woman, Marina Chechneva, a former abortionist, is now devoting her time to writing magazine articles on fetal development, something she knows well from years of handling aborted fetuses. She says she feels a responsibility for unborn children, and writes articles for women seeking abortion who do not realize “that what they’re doing is already a murder.”
Why is Russia rethinking its long held liberal abortion stand? The Rand Corporation has some interesting articles that give a back story to these new developments in Russia.
In a 1997 article published by the Rand Corporation entitled Russia’s Demographic “Crisis”: How Real Is It? the author’s make some interesting observations:
- Recent demographic trends in Russia have caused widespread public concern.
- Russia is experiencing unusually high death rates from non natural causes, many related to alcoholism.
- The Russian fertility rate has declined to among the world’s lowest, while its abortion rate is the highest.
- For the first time in Russian history, the annual number of deaths has exceeded the number of births.
- The population is aging rapidly–a trend that will accelerate over the next two decades.
In a 2001 Rand Corporation article entitled: Dire Demographic Trends Cast a Shadow on Russia’s Future, Vladmir Putin is quoted: “Year by year, we, the citizens of Russia, are getting fewer and fewer. . . . We face the threat of becoming a senile nation.” The article goes on to state: “At the same time, the fertility rate has declined to among the world’s lowest, while a high rate of abortion poses significant health problems. Deaths have exceeded births since 1992.”
In a 2002 article published also by Rand Corporation, Julie DaVanzo and Clifford A. Grammich point out that: “Like many Communist or post-Communist nations, Russia has one of the highest abortion rates in the world. These rates have created a legacy of significant medical problems. Complications from abortion are the cause of more than one in four maternal deaths in Russia. Overall, two in three Russian women aborting their pregnancies suffer health complications as a result of the procedure, further stressing the overburdened Russian health care system. Abortion has also led to high rates of secondary sterility in Russia; an estimated one in ten women is left sterile by the procedure.”
And finally click here to read another good article on this topic: Russia Rethinks Abortion: What About America? by Albert Mohler ,(president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary). One of the points Dr. Mohler makes is: “Some credit this change to the growing influence of the Russian Orthodox Church after seven decades of official Soviet atheism and repression. The Church has clearly influenced some key political figures and may play an even larger role in the future. A pro-life movement is now emerging in Russia, and these restrictions are a sign of its success.”
To that I add, ‘Our Lady of Childbirth, please pray for us.’
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