Russia's Premier Pro-Life Maternity Ward a Stunning Success: 3 More Planned
Elliot Institute Commends MI Efforts to End Coerced Abortions, Calls on Other States to Follow Suit
Updated Coerced Abortion Resources Now Downloadable
RUSSIA’S FIRST PRO-LIFE MATERNITY WARD A STUNNING SUCCESS: 3 MORE IN THE WORKS. The successful beginning of Russia’s first pro-life maternity hospital may hold the answer for saving Russia’s dying population from plummeting into a demographic catastrophe and finally reversing the culture of abortion in Russia.
An experimental pro-life hospital in Balashikha, a city near the Moscow area, has won the support and encouragement of President Vladimir Putin’s government, which is facing the problem of Russia’s alarming decline in population. Russia’s low birthrate (1.28), staggeringly high abortion to birth rate of 2-1, and a life-expectancy rate hovering just beneath 60, have caused an alarming annual population decline of 700,000 persons per year.
Tom Murray approached the Russian government with the possibility of American collaboration in encouraging an increase in the birthrate. His solution was a test-pilot pro-life maternity hospital that would provide Russian mothers with modern health facilities that would promote birth and discourage abortion, and offer a pro-life model for the nation in maternal health care. Speaking to Health Minister Dr. Yuri Chevchenko, Murray said, “Although your government is committed to improving these causes of the problem, we believe that the best strategy in the long run is to substantially increase new births above replacement levels; and that will require a radical reduction in abortions.”
Dr. Chevchenko conveyed to Murray that Vladimir Putin, who also desired to discourage abortion in Russia. He said Putin gave him his personal assurance of the government’s complete support for the project. Murray’s project owed its success to the joint effort between Americans and Russians in establishing the pro-life hospital. Murray and his wife Anne founded the Future of Russia Foundation (FOR) in 2002, a not-for-profit group which raised money for the pilot program.
The Russian government provided them with a dilapidated 220-bed Soviet-era maternity hospital, which was serving a region about the size of Ohio. The hospital was reputably the best in the area, although Murray says the birthing suites looked more like “torture chambers.” Nevertheless they developed an unused 5,000-square-foot wing of the hospital into an antenatal clinic, and provided renovated birthing suites and nurseries with state-of-the-art medical equipment.
The health ministry selected a team of Russian doctors, nurses, and technicians for special training in the United States. FOR established an education fund for training this team, which now in turn has trained 300 Russians to serve in the region’s health care system. Today the Balashikha maternity hospital has become the foremost model in renewing Russia’s maternity-care system, and has enjoyed tremendous success in increasing the birthrate in the area.
The number of live births at Balashikha has nearly tripled, and hundreds of women per week, including many women from the Moscow area, visit the hospital for its maternal care.
In addition, the adjoining abortion clinic, which used to perform more abortions than births at the hospital, has been closed. The success of the hospital has so encouraged the Russian authorities that the government established a new health-care district, extending the project to serve the 700,000 people in the area surrounding Balashikha. The pro-life model developed at the Balashikha hospital will be implemented in three other district hospitals. It is the hope of Tom Murray that the continued success of the pro-life model at the Balashikha hospital will become the model for Russia, and help Russia emerge from “the valley of the culture of death – to lead the world to a culture of life.” [“Saving Lenin’s Children: Russia’s First Pro-Life Maternity Ward”, Tom Murray, http://www.crisismagazine.com/may2006/murray.htm; http://www.futureofrussia.org/; 25July06, LifeSiteNews.com, P.J. Smith, Russia]
ELLIOT INSTITUTE COMMENDS MICHIGAN EFFORTS TO END COERCED ABORTIONS, CALLS ON OTHER STATES TO FOLLOW SUIT. A leading researcher and expert on post-abortion issues is commending a new package of bills introduced by legislators in Michigan that aims to put an end to coerced abortions.
Five women sponsored the Coercive Abortion Prevention Act, which makes it a crime to coerce a woman into an unwanted abortion. It also requires abortion clinics to ask women if they are being coerced and provide referrals to domestic violence programs or other resources that can help them escape abusive situations.
The bill defines coercion to include physical violence or engaging in "a willful course of conduct involving repeated and continual harassment" that could cause a woman "to reasonably feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, threatened, or harassed"– including threatening to end the relationship or withdraw financial support if the woman does not abort.
A study of American and Russian women that was published in the Medical Science Monitor in 2004 found that, among American women who had undergone abortions, 64 percent reported that they had felt pressured by others to abort. Elliot Institute director David Reardon, one of the co-authors of the study, said that the pressure placed on women to abort can be subtle or overt, but the end goal–getting her to submit to an unwanted abortion–is the same.
"Coercion can involve playing the 'guilt trip' game–'if you don't abort, you'll ruin my life'–or threatening to withdraw emotional and practical support unless the woman agrees to end the pregnancy," Reardon said. "For a woman whose life is already turned upside down by an unplanned pregnancy, this type of emotional blackmail could be the last straw that pushes her toward an unwante
If such tactics don't work, anger and verbal abuse can escalate to physical violence, Reardon said. Studies have found that murder is the leading cause of death among pregnant women, and in many cases, police and witnesses have reported that the killer wanted to stop the woman from giving birth to her unborn child.
"Studies have also indicated that being pregnant places a woman at higher risk of being physically attacked," Reardon said. "Although some women in abusive relationships have reported that they experienced decreased violence during pregnancy, the findings indicate that abusive men are more likely to reject the pregnancy than to accept it. One study of battered women found that the target of battery during pregnancy shifted to the woman's abdomen, suggesting hostility toward the unborn child."
Reardon said that efforts to ban coerced abortion are vital to helping protect teens and young girls from sexual exploitation and abuse. He points to an undercover investigation carried out by Life Dynamics in which a staff member phoned abortion clinics pretending to be a 13-year-old girl impregnated by her adult boyfriend. According to recordings and transcripts of the calls made by Life Dynamics, many staff members advised the caller to lie or withhold information so that she could obtain an abortion and the abusive situation would not be reported to authorities.
"Anytime a young girl comes to a clinic with an older partner, this should raise a red flag that she is being exploited and abused," Reardon said. "Tragically, these young girls are often given unwanted abortions, no questions asked, and returned to the same abusive relationship. Forcing abortion clinics to ask questions about whether she really wants the abortion could go a long way toward helping to end this kind of abuse."
However, Planned Parenthood affiliates in Michigan are opposing the bill, saying it is just another legal barrier preventing women from accessing abortion services. But Reardon argues that coerced abortion is widespread and criticized the group for putting "profits and ideology" ahead of women's well-being. "Regardless of politics, everyone should be able to agree that no woman should be coerced into having an unwanted abortion," Reardon said. "Women's rights should not take a backseat to the ideology of promoting abortion. I hope that other states will follow Michigan's lead and enact legislation that will help reduce the epidemic of unwanted abortions." [The Elliot Institute News, Post-Abortion Research, Vol.5, No. 4, June 18, 2006; http://www.AfterAbortion.Info]
UPDATED COERCED ABORTION FLYER, RESEARCH BOOKLET AND FORCED ABORTION REPORT NOW DOWNLOADABLE.
"They said I made the right decision … but I was never given a choice."
Nothing shatters the illusion of choice as fast as clear evidence that most abortions are unwanted, coerced or even forced, and that the aftermath of this counterfeit "choice" is literally traumatizing and killing women.
The Elliot Institute is incorporating important new research findings into some of our collateral materials, which are part of our Un-Choice communications-outreach campaign.
Although many of these materials are designed to be quick-reference, user-friendly research summaries, fact sheets and informational brochures, the Coerced Abortion Flyer and the Forced Abortion Special Report present an especially compelling, to-the-point and easy-to-distribute portrayal of just what we mean by "Un-Choice."
Quotes from women who've been there, substantiated by published research, paint a clear picture of coercion, misinformation, inadequate counseling, non-support, trauma, humiliation, pain, suffering and unbearable grief but not "choice."
We believe that this information can simultaneously obliterate the misleading presumption of "choice" and the myth that abortion is ever a quick, easy, safe, non-traumatic or effective solution.
Please help us to promote these urgent, life-saving materials and to open the door to healing for more than 50 million women and men who've lost a child to abortion.
The Coerced Abortion Flyer can be downloaded onto standard legal-size paper, printed front-and-back. It is a simple, effective way to distribute this message to church or civic groups as a leave-behind at presentations in offices and schools or even on parking-lot windshields where approved and appropriate.
The 21-page Forced Abortion Report — which includes the latest research findings — may also be used free of charge. For a more professional presentation, the pdf file can be downloaded and printed front and back on 11×17 paper or taken to a quick-service printer.
Other materials include the Research and Key Facts booklet, which summarizes some of our key studies, the Teen Abortion Risks fact sheet, and the Hard Cases: New Facts, New Answers booklet, plus persuasive posters that can be displayed at offices, churches, fair booths, etc. Go to www.unfairchoice.info/resources.htm to download these and other free, user-friendly resources. [Elliot Institute, 27July06, vol. 5, no 6]