Improvements in Contraception Are Reducing Historically High Abortion Rates in Russia

by Julie DaVanzo, Clifford A. Grammich

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This research brief describes work documented in Dire Demographics: Population Trends in the Russian Federation (MR-1273-WFHF/DLPF/RF).

Excerpt: 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. The picture has improved considerably, however, since the late 1980s, as contraception has become more available. Although the abortion rate remains more than three times the U.S. rate (Figure 1), it has declined substantially in the past decade. Continued improvement in contraceptive availability and quality could cut the abortion rate even further.

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