On November 20, 1920, the nascent Soviet government released what it termed a simple “public health announcement.” The statement, a missive intended as law, proclaimed a new, fully-funded program for women: legalized abortions, available free of charge at state-run hospitals. By keeping abortions high and the birth rate low, Soviet leaders and their sycophants hoped to keep more women in the labor force, economically viable and controlled by the state.
The legalization of abortion in the Soviet Union emerged as but one important facet of a systematic extermination program of a theologically-grounded social morality. Only months after the Bolshevik revolution in October 1917, the new regime issued a series of marriage laws which undermined the importance of wedlock and approved an extremely permissive “no-fault” divorce clause. Other leading authorities had earlier endorsed state-sanctioned promiscuity—labeled “free love”—as a viable alternative to marriage. Regarding the state’s disdain for wedlock, “The people’s commissar of justice . . . stated that the main purpose of the legislation was to undermine religion-sanctified marriage,” blessed by the church (see Mervyn Matthews, “Soviet Social Policies,” in The Soviet Union and Eastern Europe). By subverting family life, the Soviets self-consciously attempted to defy what even they seemingly knew: that marriage is a decidedly religious act, performed in the presence of God.
To its dismay, the government witnessed its agenda wildly succeed. Divorce rates skyrocketed. In Moscow, state statisticians reported a rate of three abortions to every one live birth, a shocking population reduction which in 1936 led Stalin to seek desperately for a way to limit the damage. Unaware of the grim realities produced by the legalization of abortion, social liberals in America lauded what they deemed the progressive nature of Soviet thinking on the issue. As journalist Marvin Olasky writes, “even . . . the sedate American Journal of Public Health in 1931,” argued on the basis of Soviet practice that legalized abortion was “the only means for women’s emancipation” in modern times.
Despite modernist fantasies, abortion did not emancipate Soviet women. It placed them in a brutal bondage, a slavery that remains to the present hour. Recently, the Russian Health Ministry revealed an abortion to live birth rate of 1.7:1 in Russia, a number five times higher than in the United States. Epidemic abortions among these young women have produced an unintended consequence: widespread infertility. As a result, researchers estimate a twenty-five percent population decline in Russia during the next half-century, a deterioration which makes one wonder whether such numerical decline will inevitably lead to cultural demise.
Other countries would do well to learn from the tragic legacy of the long Soviet war against the family. The way a nation regards marriage and the protection of its unborn children presages the long-term health of its society. Disregard toward such defining cultural institutions is nothing less than anger directed toward God, who created them. But such defiance is never taken lightly, for although even “the wrath of men praises [God] . . . He is to be feared by the kings of the earth” (Psalm 76:10, 12 ESV).
The BibleMesh Team