MOSCOW, April 9 (RAPSI) – Russia’s lower house of parliament, the State Duma, has passed in a first reading a Health Ministry sponsored bill banning the advertisement of pregnancy termination by medical services or traditional practices.
Abortion was a common method of birth control in the Soviet era and Russia still had the highest number of abortions per woman of child bearing age in the world in 2004, according to UN data. Abortion is legal up to 12 weeks of pregnancy with exceptions up to 22 weeks for some medical cases, according to a new law passed in 2011.
The government has campaigned against abortion in a bid to increase the country’s flagging birthrate, which is one factor in the nation’s demographic crisis. Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s wife Svetlana has backed the pro-life movement in Russia since 2008 with her Foundation for Social and Cultural Initiatives, according to the World Congress of Families.
The Orthodox Church is also a firm proponent of the pro-life cause in Russia.
The bill also proposes raising the age at which minors no longer need parental consent for medical screenings from 14 to 15, while the age at which consent can be given for medical intervention, such as drug treatment and for drug or alcohol screenings, will be raised from 16 to 18.
Furthermore, the bill also regulates the provision of free medication for HIV patients administered on at federal and regional outpatient clinics.
The bill also amends 56 legal acts to bring them into line with the new law on healthcare which came into effect on January 1, 2012.
The bill will also ban drug makers and distributors from encouraging physicians to prescribe specific drugs, including by offering them gifts or monetary remuneration, paying for their vacations or entertainment, signing agreements with them to recommend specific medicines to their patients, or giving them samples of drugs to pass on to their patients.