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Officials in Crimea Claim Private Clinics Have Ceased Offering Abortions

Russian-installed health officials in Crimea announced that private clinics on the Moscow-annexed peninsula have ceased providing abortions, meaning that the procedure is now only accessible in state-run medical facilities.

This decision is part of a broader effort in Russia to limit abortion, which is still legal and widely available, as the country shifts towards a more conservative stance under President Vladimir Putin.

During his time in power, Putin has aligned with the Russian Orthodox Church and has prioritized “traditional family values” and addressing the country’s declining population.

As part of this effort, authorities in several Russian regions have been working to persuade private clinics to discontinue offering abortions. Some regions have already seen success, with a significant number of clinics agreeing to stop terminating pregnancies.

There are discussions at the national level about imposing a ban on abortions at private clinics, citing frequent violations of existing regulations related to abortion access.

State statistics indicate that private clinics in Russia, where free state-funded healthcare is available to all citizens, accounted for about 20% of all abortions in recent years. Some women prefer private clinics for faster appointments, better conditions, and less pressure from doctors to continue the pregnancy.

The Russian-installed health minister in Crimea, Konstantin Skorupsky, stated that private clinics on the peninsula had “voluntarily” stopped providing abortions, but it was unclear if this decision extended to private clinics in Sevastopol.

Two chains of private clinics in Crimea confirmed that they no longer provide abortions, citing directives from management or authorities.

Since annexing Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, which was not globally recognized, Moscow has been met with opposition from Ukraine, who has pledged to reclaim the peninsula.

Putin recently acknowledged that the issue of abortion is a concern in Russia and posed the question of whether to address it through restrictions or by offering more support measures for families with children. Advocates for abortion restrictions in Russia are pushing for additional measures, including a ban on abortions at private clinics.

In Russia, women can terminate a pregnancy without conditions up to 12 weeks, up to 22 weeks in cases of rape, and indefinitely if there are medical justifications. However, there are waiting periods between appointments and the procedure itself, as well as mandatory psychological consultations and a “motivational questionnaire” outlining state support if the woman continues the pregnancy.

In Crimea, around 21% of women seeking abortions between January and September 2023 changed their minds after undergoing psychological consultations.

Recently implemented regulations also limit the sales of abortion pills used in the first trimester and many emergency contraceptives.

In addition, at least two Russian regions have prohibited the “encouragement” of abortions, and another region is contemplating similar restrictions.

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