In an effort to save the lives of Russian children and extend support to their mothers, the Ministry of Health in Russia has signed an agreement with the Russian Orthodox Church that includes prevention of abortion and provision of palliative care.
According to NRL News Today, Health Minister Veronika Skvortsova and Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, last week signed the agreement and published it on the website of the Synodal Department for ROC [Russian Orthodox Church] Church Charity and Social Service.
The agreement vows to promote "family values and prevention of abortion" and cooperate with medical institutions for the "creation of crisis pregnancy centers at hospitals with the participation of psychologists and participation of representatives of religious organizations of the Russian Orthodox Church in advising women who are planning to terminate the pregnancy, in medical institutions."
The two parties also promise to work together to support and assist pregnant women whose prenatal diagnosis indicate to the malformation of the fetus, as well as mothers who give birth to a child with developmental disabilities.
According to LifeSiteNews, the Russian Orthodox Church directly runs 29 pregnancy crisis centers and centers for single mothers, helping more than 5,500 women last year.
Nevertheless, Russia has one of the highest abortion rates of any nation in the world, with nearly two million (1,947,301) babies killed in 2014 alone. According to the UN's Department of Economic and Social Affairs, for every 1,000 births, there are 34 abortions in Russia where the fertility rate is below replacement at 1.53, and only 10 percent of abortions are carried out for health reasons.
As the country's population continues to dwindle, the Russian State Duma is currently considering legislation on abortion that includes limiting funding for abortion to only those that are considered medically necessary, according to Russia Insider.
The legislation seeks to ban private abortion clinics and make over-the-counter sale of abortion inducing medication available only through a doctor's prescription. In addition, women considering abortion would be given ultrasounds.
While this is a step in the right direction, Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, is seeking a total ban on abortion, the outlet notes.
In a speech to the Duma earlier this year, the first ever by a religious leader, he referred to abortion as "evil" and "infanticide." In regards to the present bill, he believes that "taxpayers must not pay for this."
Orthodox Christians believe that life as given by God begins at conception. The official position from the Moscow Patriarchate states that, "since the ancient time the Church has viewed deliberate abortion as a grave sin. The canons equate abortion with murder. This assessment is based on the conviction that the conception of a human being is a gift of God."
"Therefore, from the moment of conception any encroachment on the life of a future human being is criminal."