The Russian Orthodox Church has been working very, very hard to see Russia's abortion industry overturned. They push incrementally for a total ban on abortion, and in the process, they work with the government to chip away at abortion access throughout the nation.
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In the following video, he discusses the impressive growth of the pro-life movement in Russia.
Hey there everyone! Great to be back with you.
A pro-life Russia emerges. That's what we'll be talking about on today's video.
We, of course, we've been keeping a close eye on the revitalization of the Russian Orthodox Church as both a domestic and international force. And as part of this revitalization, the Russian Orthodox Church has been working very, very hard to see Russia's abortion industry overturned, eventually completely. They've been pushing incrementally for a total ban on abortion, and, in the process, they've lobbied successfully the Putin government to begin chipping away at abortion access throughout the nation.
Here's what Patriarch Kirill said when he addressed the Duma — the Russian congress — last year, when he spoke on their need to remedy the problem of abortion. He stated:
"Thank God, we are seeing some definite progress. However, we continue to receive thousands of letters from the faithful with the request to call upon the authorities to solve the problem of abortion. I ask you not to abandon the gradual efforts to overcome this terrible phenomenon."
And he, the Patriarch, goes on to assert that the "outlawing of abortion is not a revolutionary change, but a return to normal life, without which men and women's happiness is unthinkable, and the future of our people is impossible." Just beautiful words from the Patriarch there!
Now, the progress that he alluded here involves the measures that Russia's government has taken on banning abortion after 12 weeks of pregnancy — banning abortion through the efforts of the Russian Orthodox Church — and their attempt to set up social support for women who are pregnant in crisis-like situations. Well, now we have some evidence that the wider Russian society itself is beginning to move in the pro-life direction, characteristic of a thoroughly Christian civilization.
Let's begin with some statistics here. Last year, Russia reported the lowest abortion rate since the end of World War II, an estimated 700,000 abortions. We can see a consistent trend of decline over the course of that period. In 1965, there was an astounding 5,000,000 abortions committed in Russia. In 1990, the last, or a couple of years before the Soviet Union collapsed, there were 4,000,000 abortions in Russia. In the year 2000, the number decreased to just under 2,000,000 abortions. And then, in 2012, that number was reduced to about a million abortions. So the result is that abortions have decreased eight-fold in Russia over the past 25 years from approximately 5,000,000 annually to just over half a million. Moreover, since 2007, the number of births in Russia has exceeded the number of abortions by about two to one. This is a stunning reversal for the last few decades. By the mid-1980's, the Soviet Union had one of the highest rates of abortion among developed countries. Some estimates figure 115 abortions for every 100 births - an astonishing number! Very high.
Now, another indicator that Russia is turning toward a full culture of life is the change in attitude among the population. In the last 20 years, the proportion of Russian citizens who consider abortion unacceptable has actually tripled from 12% to 35%. We have to remember that in 1920, with the whole spirit of this Marxist-inspired equality, the Soviet Union became the first state in the world to actually legalize abortion. So the practice has remained, sadly, very popular among Russians. They just see it as just another form of birth control and really nothing more. Just 20 years ago, only 12% of the Russian populace opposed abortion — nearly 90% thought abortion was ok. But now, those who denounce abortion has risen 300% to over 30%. So much for the world becoming more and more secular, right? Now, the study that was released found that women were more likely than men to condemn abortion. They found that women held a more strict view with about 40% condemning abortion in all cases as compared to about 31% of men.
Now, there were several reasons for this change in attitude that we can identify. The first is, of course, the tireless efforts of the Russian Orthodox Church working closely together with the Russian state. The state has instituted economic support for families with lots of children as a way to reverse the trend of population decline. The Church has established centers of support for pregnant women in difficult situations, something very much akin to our crisis pregnancy centers. And they've promoted the development of education on the dangers of abortions.
Now, what shouldn't be overlooked, as well, is the success the Church and the Russian state have had in promoting the traditional family and sexual relationships, the collapse of which is intimately tied up in abortion. Both abortion and modern contraception on the one hand, and sexual promiscuity and homosexuality on the other, separate sex and sexuality from procreation and the family. So, both practices tend to foster, mutually, the notion that sex is legitimately pursued completely without regard to children. The most recent studies show an overwhelming rejection of homosexuality and same-sex relationships among the Russian population. So I think that is also tying into this.
Another reason for this change in attitude is, of course, the nationalist turn in Russia over the last couple of decades. There are studies that have concluded that nationalist movements tend to promote anti-abortion sentiments largely because nationalist movements tend to be very traditional. They tend to be very, very pro-family and very pro-multi-generational.
I like to illustrate this with the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding. If you haven't seen the film, it's about a young Greek woman named Toula who has a huge Greek family. They live in Chicago. And, to the shock of everyone, she gets engaged to this "regular American," as Archie Bunker would say, Ian Miller. And Ian Miller comes from your typical American secular family. So, on the day of their wedding, it's a wonderful scene. They get married in the Greek Orthodox Church — Ian has been baptized into the Church — and, when the father walks his daughter Toula down the aisle, the camera pans over the entire sanctuary, and you see, on Ian Miller's family's side, the secular side as it were, it's just a handful of family members in the first couple of rows in attendance. And then on the right side, on the bride's side, it's just filled to the brim with family members, standing room only. And here, you could see the contrast between a religious, nationalist, traditionalist vision of the family and this pathetic, dying, secular view of the family. I think there's an amazing commentary on the social differences between secular and traditionalist conceptions however inadvertent such a commentary turns out to be on the part of the director of My Big Fat Greek Wedding.
We'll be keeping our eyes on the situation in Russia. We will certainly be praying for God's richest blessings on the efforts of the Russian Orthodox Church and the flourishing of a rich culture of life throughout Russia and, indeed, throughout the world.
Transcription provided by Dormition Professional Services.
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