[JURIST] Russian President Dmitry Medvedev [official profile; JURIST news archive] signed a law on Thursday that will place restrictions on abortion [JURIST news archive] by requiring that clinics warn women of the health hazards associated with the practice. Abortions in Russia are free at any licensed medical clinic, and the only restrictions on the practice since the end of the Soviet Union ended have applied to late term pregnancies, which are restricted to those performed for the sake of the mother’s health or fetal abnormalities. Under the new law, clinics must allocate at least ten percent [NYT report], of their advertising to health warnings. Also, it is now illegal to promote abortion as a safe procedure. The goal of the law is to protect women’s health, decrease the number of deaths that occur with the practice, and to mitigate the drop in population that Russia has experienced, as the UN has found Russia to have the highest abortion rate in the world [AP report]. Russia has faced recent political divide over the practice as the Russian Orthodox Church [official website] has made efforts to restrict abortion [press release]. The parliament is expected to take up more legislation dealing with abortion in the fall.
Abortion still remains a hotly debated issue in Europe. In May, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) [official website] ruled that a Polish woman who had been denied genetic testing and an abortion was subjected to “inhuman treatment” [JURIST report] violating the European Convention on Human Rights [text]. Last year, the court ruled that Ireland failed to provide [JURIST report] “effective and accessible procedures” to allow Lithuanian women to assert constitutional rights to a lawful abortion. The ruling followed after several women filed suits asserting a violation of their rights to have to travel abroad for abortions. In March 2010, thousands protested in Spain against a bill that would allow abortions [JURIST report] up until 14 weeks of pregnancy.