February 27, 2003


Russians feel abortion's complications: Used as birth control in Soviet times, practice has led to widespread infertility (Sharon LaFraniere, February 22, 2003, Washington Post)
About 5 million -- or 13 percent -- of Russian married couples are infertile, and doctors report that diagnoses of infertility are on the rise. In nearly three out of four cases, infertility is attributed to the woman, typically because of complications from one or more abortions, according to Serov and other health experts.

The abortion rate has been declining rapidly for 15 years because of the availability of contraceptives. Still, it remains five times higher than that of the United States. The Health Ministry reports that for every live birth there are 1.7 abortions, compared with more than three births for every abortion in the United States.

A study of mid-1990s data by a group of health researchers showed Russia's abortion rate was the fourth-highest of 57 countries, after only Vietnam, Cuba and Romania.

"It's a habit, a tradition," said Serov. "It is a result of our low level of medical culture."

Russian health and demographics experts say the abortion legacy has created a problem greater than the private trauma of childless couples, because the resulting infertility contributes to a low birth rate. That trend and a soaring death rate are helping reduce Russia's population at a rapid rate.

U.N. population experts predict that in 50 years Russia will be the world's 17th-most populous country; it is now the sixth. Projections show Russia will lose more than a quarter of its population, dropping from 143 million people to 104 million by 2050.

Like other countries in Europe, Russia has been experiencing a falling fertility rate for most of the last half-century. It is now the sixth-lowest in the world, according to U.N. studies. On average, Russian women now bear just more than one child.

The two staggering numbers there are one child per couple and a near two to one rate of abortions to live births. This kind of society requires such a radical change in its culture in order to be saved that it's not sensible to believe it can happen. The problem, though most obvious in Russia, prevails across Europe and Japan and suggests that they are very nearly a lost cause. People who are insisting on the enduring importance of Europe are basically trying to prop up a corpse. Posted by Orrin Judd at February 27, 2003 1:49 PM


I saw a report today (in the Detroit Free Press) that the UN has reduced its 2050 population estimates (for about the sixth year running--take that, Paul Ehrlich), down about 400 million from the previous estimate.

Having visited Russia--well, the USSR, I was there the week before the coup--I think the non-infertility reason couples aren't having kids is that Communism turned what should be a wealthy country into a bloody awful place to live.

A generation or two down the road, with the worst after effects (hopefully) gone, fertility rates may rebound.


Jeff Guinn

Posted by: at February 27, 2003 3:07 PM

Japan is one of the wealthiest countries on Earth and has more abortions than live births and a negative population growth rate. The problem is secularism/materialism/statism, not communism.

Posted by: oj at February 27, 2003 3:30 PM

I thought Orthodox Christianity was making a big comeback in Russia?

Posted by: M Ali Choudhury at February 27, 2003 8:20 PM


I think Italy is still overwhelmingly Catholic, and has one of the lowest birth rates in the world. The US, with apparently the most widespread religious belief among wealthy nations would be looking forward to population decline in the absence of immigration.

The problem is something gave women the ability to do cost-benefit analyses, and the ability to do something about their conclusions. So what the heck was your intelligent designer thinking when he gave women brains?


Jeff Guinn

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at February 27, 2003 8:46 PM


Italy is nominally Catholic but truly post-Christian.

The US native population reproduces at replacement rate: population grew more rapidly than predicted in this last census because of immigration.

Obviously women haven't done the cost benefit analysis or they'd wonder who's going to care for them in their twilight years in the absence of children or taxpayers to fund social services.

Posted by: oj at February 27, 2003 8:52 PM


That's what makes demographics so frightening is that when your population starts to fall it goes so rapidly that a resurgence of religion isn't likely to counteract the decline. That's why the PLO should just demand a one state solution and wait till reproduction hands them control of Israel.

Posted by: oj at February 27, 2003 8:55 PM

Quick comment re some of the stats given ... about 20 years ago a large study of infertility in England found that about 11 percent of couples could not conceive a child. About 6 percent of men and 6 percent of women were "sterile". (How do 6 and 6 add to 11? Because sometimes both spouses have fertility problems.) Just giving a little perspective -- strongly agree with the other posters that the reality of crashing birthrates is a far more important development than anyone in mainstream media seems to think.

Posted by: CJ at February 28, 2003 12:45 AM


Lemme see--If a woman decides to forego the cost of raising one additional child, and invests that money instead, then she can prevent having to depend on that Ponzi scheme we call Social Security.

Doesn't that qualify as a cost-benefit analysis? Besides, just because the results don't agree with yours doesn't mean it didn't happen.


Jeff Guinn

Posted by: at February 28, 2003 7:36 AM


I realize that part of your support for abortion is the need to believe that the decision improves the lives of all concerned, but the thought that the money that would have been spent raising the child is instead being banked is truly laughable. If you're so irresponsible you use abortion as boirth control there's little chance you've planned for when you're 65.

Moreover, that kind os selfish reasoning--the baby needs to die so I can be a little more comfortable--is abominable.

Posted by: oj at February 28, 2003 8:06 AM


I think JG was referring to the decision not to conceive not aborting a foetus.

Posted by: M Ali Choudhury at February 28, 2003 9:04 AM

You also failed to put in these three sentences.

Despite Moscow's ambivalence over family planning, the rate of abortions in Russia dived by 45 percent from 1992 to 2001.

With no access to decent contraceptives, Russian women came to view abortion as a routine procedure, doctors say, comparable almost to a tooth extraction.

Serov predicts abortions will continue to decline as contraceptives become more accepted, even without a federal program. "It will just take more time," he said, to reverse a decades-old predilection.

Posted by: M Ali Choudhury at February 28, 2003 9:14 AM


And that will raise birthrates how?

Posted by: oj at February 28, 2003 9:31 AM

Well hopefully as botched abortions are phased out, there will be more fertile women around willing to have babies.

Posted by: M Ali Choudhury at February 28, 2003 9:39 AM

And, as Communism's appalling economic legacy fades, more women may elect
to become pregnant.

BTW, the Russians are, or at least so I have read, uniquely fond of children.


Posted by: at February 28, 2003 12:28 PM


The US is the only Western nation defying the rule that the more affluent a nation becomes the less willing its people are to be troubled by child-rearing responsibilities.

Posted by: oj at February 28, 2003 3:52 PM

"What is man...?" God asks - and answers!

Many problems in human experience are the

result of false and inaccurate definitions

of humankind - premised in man-made religions

and humanistic philosophies. For better or

worse, the way we define 'human' determines

our view of self, others, relationships,

institutions, life, - and future.

"What is man...?" Only the Creator, who asks

the question and made us in His own image,

is qualified to accurately define us.

Man is earth's CHOICEMAKER Psalm 25:12 He

is, by nature and nature's God, a creature

of Choice - and of CRITERIA Psalm 119:30,173

His unique and definitive characteristic is,

and of Right ought to be, the foundation of

his environments, institutions, and respect-

ful relations to his fellow-man. Thus, he

is oriented to a FREEDOM whose roots are in

the Order of the universe.

Biblical principles are still today the

foundation under America and Western Civil-

ization. Let us proclaim it! Let's roll.

Behold! The SEASON of Generation-Choicemaker

JOEL 3:14 selah

The complete article is at:


Semper Fidelis

Jim Baxter

"Envy thou not the oppressor and choose none

of his ways." Proverbs 3:31 KJV

Posted by: Jim Baxter at February 28, 2003 4:47 PM