“Abortion Culture,” Demographic Crisis, and Neotraditionalism in Russia: A Mixed-Methods Approach

Leslie Root , University of California, Berkeley

As contraception has become more widely available in the post-Soviet era, Russia's famously high abortion rate has plummeted – from 169 per 100 live births in 2000 to fewer than 60 per 100 today. In spite of this secular decline, a powerful anti-abortion movement has emerged in the last decade within the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian government. This paper examines the end of Russia's “abortion culture,” both demographic and discursive. I show how the crisis narrative common in Russian population discourse is paired with two separate logics – one of neotraditionalism, nationalism, and religious rhetoric, and another of wellness and self-improvement – to discourage abortion and contraception, and I explore Russian women’s reactions to this narrative. In addition to demographic data, I use ethnography and data from interviews conducted with women involved in an anti-abortion campaign that provided “psychological counseling” to abortion patients in provincial Russia in 2017.

See extended abstract

 Presented in Session 10. Fertility, Family Planning, Sexual Behavior & Reproductive Health 2