Illegal Abortions and the Soviet Health Service
BMJ (British Medical Journal). 1987 Feb 14; 294(6569): 425-426.
Although abortions are permitted in the USSR and its health service performs them on a massive scale, it is estimated that there is one illegal abortion, often self-induced, for every 2.7 legal terminations. The author, a university lecturer in Russian studies, attributes this situation to strong social disapproval of premarital and extramarital pregnancies and to deficiencies in the health service. Legal abortion involves long waiting lists, poor quality of care, callous health personnel, parental accompaniment for girls under 18, and the requirement that "abortion" be recorded on work absence forms, precluding confidentiality. Contributing to the high incidence of both legal and illegal abortion is the lack of adequate sex education and family planning advice and of acceptable and effective contraceptive methods. (KIE abstract)