Nikolai Moiseyev is only 41, but he has already saved around 100 human lives or even more. He was born in Grozny (the capital of what is now the Chechen Republic) and now lives and works in Svetlograd of the Russia’s Stavropol region. Two pre-abortion consulting rooms at maternity centers have been opened under his direction. These rooms are also called medical and social centers for pregnant women in a difficult situation and their family members. Volunteers from all over Russia have followed his example, setting up information stands, trying to dissuade future mothers from abortions…
Taking Communion before abortion?
—A fetus in a mother’s womb is an individual human being, like any of us. And it feels fear and pain. On the popular shots which are circulating in the internet one can see a fetus attempting to dodge an abortionist’s instruments and even let out a cry. Nikolai Vladimirovich, you have been involved in anti-abortion activities for a long time, you have met many people, including women who had abortions or were about to get them, and have corresponded with them in social networks. In your opinion, do they realize and feel that they are bearing a living person in their womb who understands all?
—A living person, or a lifeless fetus, an embryo? There are as many different opinions as there are people. This is seen from the comments on social networks’ pages devoted to abortions. In most cases our people consider abortion as just one method of contraception. There is a widespread view that it is a lifeless fetus until a certain term, so women want to have an abortion as soon as possible, while this “non-child”, as they believe, cannot feel pain.
—It looks like most women do not regard the infant in their womb as a living human being … How else do these women explain their desire to get rid of the child?
—You will be surprised, but sometimes we get such answers: “Yes, there is the commandment: ‘Thou shalt not kill’. But we are all sinners. And I hope God will forgive me. He forgives all”. Once a woman who got an abortion said me: “The man by whom I became pregnant was very bad. It is good that I have had an abortion, otherwise I would have given birth to a moron like him”. I ask: “And how is your conscience?” “God has forgiven me,” she answers. “Why do you think so?” “Because of confession and Communion. I have been to confession and Communion since then”. You see, she does not regret killing her child at all, she has no repentance!
—They have an attitude towards confession and Communion as if it’s just an ordinary hygienic procedures?
—Exactly. “Glory to Thee, o Lord, as Thou dost always forgive us”. Church workers often relate such a story: a woman enters the church and asks where she can light a candle for the repose of a soul. “One of your relatives has died?” she is asked. “No, I had an abortion and have been told to light a candle,” she says in reply. And some doctors also recommend: “Go and take Communion before abortion so that all will go well”.
—Yes. And there are so many wild delusions regarding abortions. We need to struggle with these prejudices. We arrange talks, explain the position of the Russian Orthodox Church. We bring it to their attention that an abortion is a murder, a homicide. The only difference is that when a person whom we know and love is killed in the street, we see how he or she looks and we grieve for this person, and we have never seen this little baby from the abortion clinic and have no pity for it. Fetuses are killed in abortion clinics that their mothers may not see their corpses. A mother comes, closes her eyes, then she is administered anesthetic, recovers and leaves. That is all.
—But a “silent week” before abortion is mandatory in our country for the woman to think deeply about it.
—Yes. But this “silent week” is not effective here.
—Why do you think so?
—I made this conclusion judging by my conversations with people who work with pregnant women or on the helpline. They assert that women tend to think this way: I must go through this procedure as soon as possible.
And gynecology is a closed sphere. We do not know what one or another gynecologist says to pregnant patients. And if we start doing video surveillance or audio recordings of appointments, then they will complain that it is a violation of the law and an encroachment on medical secrecy. But medical secrecy deals with diseases, and pregnancy is not a disease! The existing law should be amended or even totally changed.
Once I was given a video recording (it must have been filmed by a hidden camera) showing a maternity consulting center’s manager extorting money for abortions bypassing the cash desk.
—What is the profit for a doctor in this?
—Absence of record of an abortion in one’s medical history—some women want to protect their reputation, “to save face” before their marriage, or they do it for some other reason. And they pay money for it.
Although, medical non-surgical abortions now have become very popular. Even gynecologists are complaining that there are currently fewer abortions. But in reality their number has not dropped, women have simply chosen non-surgical types of abortion, thinking that drugs are a safe and more sparing means. You come to a private clinic and are given a tablet under the observation of a doctor, then another tablet—and you will have an artificial abortion.
—A safer means? It’s absurd!
—Medical abortions are now advertised as a new method, though there is nothing new here. In old times “healers” used to give women potions which provoked miscarriage.
You asked if women realize that they are killing a living person. One day I was with a lot of people at a big party. It turned out that many of the women who were feasting at the table had had abortions. And they went as far as boasting what dreams they had seen under anesthesia during the abortion operation…
—A feast in time of plague …
—Oh yes. I even heard of some girlfriends who “celebrated” a medical abortion, that is, miscarriage, by drinking champagne … And “why not”, judging by today’s way of thinking?
And even now women resort to many desperate measures in order to terminate pregnancies, for example, to piercing their fetuses with knitting needles. Many doctors say that if we ban abortions now, then the rate of maternal mortality will increase due to these self-induced abortions. The doctors face this phenomenon already now. I have heard such reports at conferences that I visited.
—And do women who come to get abortions know well about all the negative health consequences of this procedure? Do they think of their health at all, if they resort to knitting needles and so on? Do they worry that many of them will not be able to have children in the future?
—Of course, each individual person cares for his or her health, though few people think of it very seriously in their young days. But in the comments and letters of repentance women write: when they had abortions in their youth, they worried that it would be harmful for their health, but did not worry that they were killing their babies at all. And what gynecologists say to their patients today: “We will give you injections of such antibiotics that all will go well and there will be no negative effects for your health. It can be compared with a visit to a dentist!” There are even reels showing how skillfully doctors perform abortions—that all allegedly goes by with no aftermath at all.
Techniques of influence
—How can we oppose this folly? How should we struggle with it? Through dissuading? Through distributing leaflets?
—To dissuade, to distribute leaflets, to hang signs—everything helps. We must not sit idle. As far as stands and placards are concerned, they should be with a picture which hits you in the eye and strikes. People will not read mere words. We now hang the following stands in maternity consulting centers: a picture with the words in large letters, “Mommy, keep my life!”, “Abortion is murder”. Whether you like it or not, you will squint at it out of the corner of your eye. And for those who are waiting their turn and want to amuse themselves with something we offer colorful booklets on the intrauterine development of a man. They are inserted in plastic “sleeves”. You come up and take them to read or take home…
And a psychologist in a consultancy to help women which we recently opened in a stanitsa (Cossack village) of the Krasnodar region, related that a film which is shown on the monitor hanging in the corridor helped dissuade one woman from having abortion. While the woman was waiting for her appointment, she watched this film and it made her think deeply about the nature of abortion. So, when she entered the psychologist’s room, she didn’t want to kill her baby anymore.
—A wonderful example! And what other “techniques of influence” do you have?
—There is a story. In one clinic we were given very little space for stands. When the manager learned about our stand, she decided to “outsell” us and hung posters on contraception all round the corridor: which contraception method you should choose, how to interrupt sexual intercourse so as to avoid pregnancy and so on. We came, but there was no space for a stand! And then we prepared a small stand: the key figure of Christ, weeping at abortions, is in the center, with the words, “Getting rid of the conceived, you will not get rid of the killed” by Him. When we hung it, gynecologists themselves were impressed, and shocked by it first and foremost. In fact they try not to think that abortion is a murder, and to remind them about it means to touch them on their sore spot.
It is interesting to observe people’s reaction to our stands. If they’re devoted to prenatal development of babies, it attracts pregnant women very much. Women come up and vie with each other saying: “I have this one! And mine’s this one!” Positive stands do attract.
We have one stand with a poem. It begins very positively and ends in such a way that nobody will go away indifferent. It’s impossible to read it from beginning to end without shedding tears. And we have specially chosen a picture depicting a smiling baby with its mother. People think it is about something good and read it … and weep. Such are some of our techniques. That is a good advertising gimmick. We have worked out a number of other de-motivators as well.
—For maternity consulting centers and clinics?
-Not only for them. Work should be done outside maternity centers too. Lectures on this subject should be organized for students and young people. There is another story from my personal practice. I was giving a lecture in an university, showing photo and video materials … And it turned out that two young women who intended to have abortions were sitting in the lecture hall. They were shocked by the materials and when the lecture was over they discussed with their friends what they had seen. They eventually firmly decided not to get abortions. And other students did not think of any abortions afterwards.
—So it means that people are willing to perceive information that is embarrassing for them. They are ready to change their mind and to turn away from abortion …
-It is so. But it is better to do this work when they are not yet mothers, so as to make them responsible parents. And we need to work with guys as well.
—But it’s considered that responsible parenthood means raising children in material prosperity and women resort to abortion because they refuse to reproduce in poverty.
—Archpriest Maxim Obukhov from the “For Life” center, one of the pioneers of the anti-abortion movement in Russia, studied the reasons why women resort to abortions in Russia and prepared an article on this subject. And, according to him, the most common primary cause of abortions is by no means fear of poverty, but the psychological unreadiness to become a mother and pressure from relatives. The psychological unreadiness for motherhood! The material difficulties are far less important. By the way, there are the following words on our stands: “If you need help, then call us!” and the telephone number is given. We have had only a couple of calls so far such as families with many children asking for second-hand items for children.
—Did you help them?
—We do not have our own resources, but we do have contacts. There is a saying: “contacts will save the world”. People trust us.
—It seems that mostly private individuals and organizations help. And what about the state? Society? What else should be done in order to at least decrease the number of abortions?
—The main thing is when there is no opposition to educational programs. And let us observe the regulations. If you show films, they must fall under the “18+”, “12+” categories.
Our difficulties can be expressed by these words: The harvest is abundant, but the laborers are few (Mt. 9:37). Our essential problem is shortage of people who, for instance, could be involved in lecturing. Our organization sent a letter to the Stavropol regional Ministry of Education with a proposal to introduce a new subjects in schools, “Moral basics of family life”. This course was introduced in several regions on the initiative of the Patriarchal Commission on Family Matters, Protection of Motherhood and Childhood with which we have been cooperating and from which we have received some necessary learning aids. But here is the issue: even if we obtain an official permit, who will teach this course and who will be in charge of it?
Another problem is financing. It is very hard to obtain a grant. Now it is easier to get a grant for holding New Year parties, but for something more serious—that is a problem. That is why we believe that a federal program for struggling with abortions is needed, funding should come directly from the state. This is how work should be done.
“After a prayer service things began to move ahead”
—Nikolai Vladimirovich, why did you decide to struggle against abortion?
Some years before, when I had just converted to faith, I felt I needed to do something to counteract abortions. But that desire disappeared soon. Though, when friends came to me to borrow money for abortions, I did my best to dissuade them …
—And did you succeed?
—Yes. Their children are already grown-up, they are about 15. There were certain prerequisites for this kind of activity then.
—What did you start with?
—I started spreading photographs on social networks. I created such “auditoria” that people willy-nilly visited my pages. They were terrified and shocked, wrote me angry letters. But there were also letters from women who resolved not to have abortions after seeing these photos. My pages were visited by a huge number of people, up to 45,000 users logged onto my page every day. I estimated that several million people visited during the eighteen months of my active work on social networks. Now I have a whole team of like-minded people who continue this work. The Odnoklassniki (“Classmates”) network has by now the largest anti-abortion group, up to 60,000 people. There are respective groups on the Facebook and VKontakte social networks as well. We are not waiting for people to come to the anti-abortion group first, but we expose this theme for public viewing.
Social networks are very helpful in our work. This year we have started cooperating with the group, “Festival for Life”, created by Sergei Chesnokov—it has around 12,000 members. And when we published the information through it on stands in maternity consulting centers and suggested all those indifferent to join us in this work, some 200 people responded. And social networks are instrumental in collecting donations for these stands.
—Do you remember the location where you set up your first stand, from which it all began?
—Sure. It was in the town of Svetlograd where I live! I asked our parish priest to go to a maternity consulting center with me. Then we didn’t have a stand, but a placard that depicted Christ weeping over aborted children. And we wrote above: “Need help? – Call us!” And we performed a prayer service right in the abortion clinic. And it was after the prayer service that all started moving ahead. Circumstances began to unfold in a very helpful way for our work. I got acquainted with a local deputy Nikolai Novopashin, founder of a rehabilitation center for drug addicts, who included me in the working team for implementation of a project of the United Russia Party to which we added several clauses aimed at the protection of the life of unborn children and women’s reproductive health. Using the United Russia Party’s resources, we held several events in the Stavropol territory. Nobody refused us because we said: here is a project, let us put it into action.
—So your work was not limited to setting up stands?
—Certainly not. Stands are good, but they are not enough. It occurred to us to open consultancies to help women. We referred to methodological letters of recommendation by the Ministry of Health which had been sent out all over Russia.
—Did the Ministry of Health become concerned with the issue of abortion?
—It had such an initiative in 2011. We began putting it into action.
—Is it helpful to your work?
—It is now impossible to refuse us when we come with our materials. But if they do not let us in, we demand a formal refusal and write complaints …
—As is intended, each clinic must have a consultancy to help women planning to have abortions.
—Exactly. But in reality there are few of them. And there are these consultancies only in those clinics where Orthodox Christians are active. If there are no Orthodox activists, these consultancies remain only on paper. Or, even if they are organized, no work is done there. I have come across this situation in my town. I once asked the head physician this question: “Do you have any document or agreement? Is any work being carried out?” The doctor was silent and only shrugged his shoulders. Nothing was being done! I go to the lady psychologist, and she says: “Yes, we have a social service center. Such an agreement was concluded several years ago. But no patients have been referred to me since then”.
—Nikolai Vladimirovich, how many lives have you managed to save? Do you have some rough statistics?
—I have the statistics for our medical and social center. It was opened a year and a half ago on the feast of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker. We equipped it near a maternity consulting center. We really struggled for this place, because at first we were offered another one which was difficult to get to. According to the psychologist who works in this consultancy center, the lives of the first fifty children have already been saved: the women have been registered for pregnancy.
—You have opened two such consultancy centers, haven’t you?
—The second one was opened in November. So it has been working for two months now.
—No, in the Krasnodar territory, the Bryukhovetskaya stanitsa (Cossack village). There we met one active Orthodox Christian who tackled this work and carried it through. By the way, we found him through the Odnoklassniki (“Classmates”) social network. We created the group, “Setting up ‘Stop to abortion’ stands”. The man saw and joined us, set up the stands, then hung 3x6 banners in the street, reading “Mommy, don’t kill me!”, “Mommy, do not get an abortion”. He has his advertising spaces there and he provided them to us for hanging our signs there.
—Have any mothers shared their stories of awakening with you: that they had intended to have an abortion and then changed their mind? If so, can you tell us one such story?
—There is one recent story which I understand as a miracle. Two young ladies from Moscow who have been cooperating with us called me. Their work is very interesting. Their advertisement reads: “An unplanned pregnancy? Telephone us!” A woman thinks she will be told how she should have an abortion, so that it could be cheaper and so on. She calls but receives very different kinds of information. So these ladies asked me to speak to one woman who had rung them up. She told them that her life was unhappy, her guy left her and she had two abortions. She said she would refuse to have the third abortion provided she would receive financial support … But she hung up the receiver.
And I began to think how we should respond. I made a post on Facebook and asked one lady to give that poor woman a call, because it is easier for a woman to speak with another woman on these things … I made the same publication on Odnoklassniki as well. Soon a woman named N. from the town of Slavyansk-on-Kuban (the Krasnodar region) visited my page. And I had been told that the woman we were looking for was from Slavyansk-on-Kuban. I wrote her: “Dear N., is this your phone number?” But she replied, frightened: “Who are you? What do you want from me?” You cannot help but be afriad because some unknown man is telling you your telephone number … Later it became clear that we found the right woman. I told her about our organization and the support we give. I told her that here is a woman in Moscow who tailors ladies' wear and she can take two or three pregnant women under her patronage. One such woman was found and one more was needed. I gave her time to think over and decide whether she really needed to resort to abortion. I gave this information to my colleagues from the support group which consists of some forty members and asked them to contact her and to learn her situation better. As a result we managed to persuade her to keep her baby’s life. I believe it was a true miracle. I think of her, she visits my page. And she needs further support.
—Including material support.
—Yes, material support. But sometimes I feel like one man in the field. Not all encourage this undertaking, even in the Church. More than once I happened to come to the church to ask for money and hear the people saying: “No, we will not give him money”. Such things happen. But we have succeeded in finding a sponsor for this woman who is willing to send her children’s clothes and shoes. I will give the details so that people could contact and communicate directly. We know by experience that it is much better. And it is impossible for one person to do everything, especially when you are short of time.
—What kind of support do you need? Some of our readers may want to become your volunteers.
—We need help in spreading information about our organization, in setting up the stands. Those who may be inspired with this idea can join us in our work. If someone wishes to set up stands in his or her town, we can help with agreements, provide the legal aspects—and they will only need to formalize the letters and stamp them.
We can also teach them methods for giving lectures. It is important because the proper sequence of information presented at lectures is needed, so that your audience might listen to you open-mouthed to the end.
If you wish to help the project, you can contact Nikolai Moiseyev by telephone: +7 962 446 67 09.
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Nikolai Moiseyev in social networks: