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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Anti-Abortion Campaigners Aim to Teach Young People

Every 10th pregnancy in Russia results in an abortion, giving the country one of the highest abortion rates in the world, demographers and health officials said Tuesday.

The number of abortions has slowly declined in recent years but remains high, contributing to the country's shrinking population along with the low birth rate and high mortality rate, said Anatoly Vishnevsky, head of the Center for Demography and Ecology, at a round table discussion held for the launch of a nongovernmental year-long anti-abortion program. Called the New Generation Against Abortions, the program was drafted by the nongovernmental International Foundation of Mother and Child's Health Care.

The program does not seek an outright ban on abortion but aims to educate younger generations of Russians on how to avoid abortions through media campaigns and sex education programs, said foundation president Boris Kaganov. He declined to give any details on the planned campaigns.

According to Health Ministry statistics, the overall number of abortions has dropped by 20 percent over the past five years, while the number of abortions among girls under the age of 14 declined by 15 percent. At the same time, only 15 percent of women of childbearing age are healthy and only 10 to 20 percent of babies are born healthy.

Some 50 percent of abortions result in complications, often leading to infertility, said Larisa Gavrilova, deputy head of the Health Ministry's department for maternity care.

Young people's awareness about contraception and the dangers associated with abortions is uneven. Students are generally more informed than less educated young people, among whom abortions are more common, said Inga Grebeseva of the Russian Family Planning Association.

In a recent survey of students in several Russian regions, 78 percent of respondents said an abortion would be justified if the pregnancy threatened the mother's health or if the child might be born disabled. Only 15 percent of respondents said a pregnancy should be terminated for financial reasons.

Meanwhile, Health Ministry statistics show that almost half of abortions are done for financial reasons.