Moscow, July 22, 2021
Participants in the Russian Orthodox Church’s 10th General Church Congress on Social Service have proposed a plan for the phased removal of abortions by request from the compulsory medical insurance system.
The Congress was held May 13-15 with the participation of representatives from 165 dioceses throughout Russia and abroad, sisters and clergy from Sisters of Mercy branches, the heads of Orthodox social projects, and social workers. The forum’s final document was approved by His Holiness Patriarch Kirill and published yesterday.
“Taking into account Germany’s experience, where payment for an abortion at the expense of insurance is provided only when there are social or medical reasons or because of the extreme poverty of a woman,” the document states, “it is proposed to consider the possibility of phasing out abortions by request of a woman from the CHI system—at first, following the example of Germany, for women with an income above the poverty line, and then for all cases where a woman appeals for an abortion out of desire.”
The participants also proposed a ban on doctors and medical workers on their own initiative offering a woman to have an abortion.
The Congress also proposed that a federal law be adopted mandating ultrasound imaging and listening to the baby’s heartbeat for women who have expressed a desire for an abortion, as well mandatory counseling.
In Germany, where there is mandatory counseling, there are significantly fewer abortions than in other European countries where there is no mandatory counseling, explained Maria Studenikina, head of the Family, Motherhood, and Childhood Protection Department of the Synodal Department for Charity.
The Congress also proposed that the government give a one-time payment to women when they reach the twelfth week of pregnancy, after which it is forbidden by law to have an abortion by request, and that they receive a box of necessary items upon discharge from the maternity hospital.
The document also contains a number of proposals related to supporting large families, including exponentially increasing the amount of monthly financial assistance according to the number of children.
The main topic of the Congress was summing up the results of the Church’s social service over the past 30 years and determining directions for further development in this area.