Russia has the highest abortion rate in the world. Now the Duma is attempting to ban abortion advertising in an effort to reduce the number. I see this as a reminder that abortion being legal doesn’t correlate with happy, healthy populations. Women in Russia do not have more freedom and rights, men and women in Russia are not healthier (in fact, globally, Russia is the only country to not experience an improvement in life expectancy between 1950 and today–improvements in life expectancy are generally an indicator of better health and welfare.) I’m not saying abortion is the only factor to consider–that would be silly. But it is one factor and since we are strangely told that abortion equals enhanced rights and improved health in particular for women, we ought to examine Russia closely.
Brigitte wonders: Does anybody really believe that a ban on abortion advertising will help? I have trouble imagining any pregnant woman suddenly deciding to abort her child because she saw an ad on television on in a magazine. I’ve lived in Quebec for 30 years (last time I looked: 42 abortions per 100 live births), yet I can’t really recall any abortion advertising jingle or slogan or any kind of abortion ad whatever. But I can still imitate Sucrets’ famous “Solange, es-tu réveillée?” from an ad that probably hasn’t aired since 1978. I’m afraid there as here, the problem is a culture that doesn’t put much value on the unborn, not abortion advertising.
Rebecca adds: 42 abortions per 100 live births? Wow. I’ve never heard it framed that way before, but that’s a very attention-getting way to put it.
Re: abortion and advertising: I agree, I find it unlikely that a given woman with an unplanned pregnancy will be spurred to abort, when she otherwise wouldn’t, by an ad. I do believe, though, that a culture in which abortion is portrayed as so mainstream and acceptable as to be advertised like a new soft drink (hey, we don’t allow cigarettes to be advertised anymore because of their harmful effects) would encourage people to perceive abortion, even unconsciously, as a perfectly valid option that means less caution is needed with birth control and choosing sexual partners.
The link between unmarried births and welfare rates (they’re positively corelated with respect to increases in most U.S. states) is a similar sort of background, culture-setting issue. Your typical 17-year-old doesn’t sit down with a scratch pad and calculate whether it’s financially viable to have a baby with no job and no husband on the horizon based on current benefit rates, but is nonetheless influenced by the degree to which society assents to supporting the children of teen mothers.
In the case of Russia, even if the only motivation is demographic concern, a ban on abortion advertising would have the effect of delegitimizing it to some small extent. Free speech is always an issue in advertising restrictions, but Russia’s history of problems with freedom of expression is such that pro-abortion ads are the least of its troubles on that score.