THE EARTH TIMES
DECEMBER 25, 1995
Unusually high abortion rate
By Ashali Varma
The International Planned parenthood Federation’s work in Europe took a sharp new turn with the emergence of the Commonwealth of Independent (CIS). Unlike Western Europe, which has well established Family Planning Associations (FPAs) and a highly developed health-care system, the former Soviet lacked many essential reproductive health services.
A high abortion rate posed a significant health problem in Russia and the other CIS countries, where “women had no access to contraceptives,” says IPPF’s European Regional Director, Lyn Thomas. Now, as family planning services take hold, the abortion rate is beginning to fall.
IPPF set up its first Russian FPA in 1991 and currently operates 40 local clinics that work closely with local authorities. The clinics train teachers and urge hospital officials to authorize purchases of contraceptives (only hospitals are permitted to order such supplies). IPPF has opened youth centers in Tula, Moscow and Stavropol to provide information and services to teenagers.
The Russian authorities are extremely supportive of family planning initiatives, says Thomas, a stand symbolized by the local governor’s appearance at the inauguration of the Tula youth facility.
The government has launched a committee on women’s health and is developing legislation to establish reproductive health services.