Termination of Pregnancy and Abortion in Russia

Information on abortion laws in Russia and how to proceed in the event of an unwanted pregnancy, in addition to details of family planning clinics...

Abortions (aborty / аборт) are legal in Russia, and are available as part of the free healthcare package of mandatory medical insurance at state hospitals, or from private facilities. Every insured woman over the age of 16 can request free termination of a pregnancy within the legal terms.

In general, public opinion is that the woman has the right to choose between abortion and giving birth. Recently though, some thinking is that fathers should also have some right to take part in the decision making process. Most people support abortions being kept legal and the procedure should not be made complicated. However, there are some who believe it should be taken out of insurance packages for free medical care and should be a paid procedure.

Minors

If the pregnant girl is younger than 16, written permission by the mother is required and a council of three doctors decides the case.

Timings for an Abortion

Up until the 12th week of pregnancy, an abortion can be performed solely on the basis of the desire of the pregnant woman. In-between the 12th and 22nd weeks, a pregnancy can be terminated only if it was a result of rape, or in the case of medical reasons, it can be terminated at any time.

When requesting an abortion, the policy of "informed consent" is applied. According to the law, there should be at least 48 hours between the request made by the woman and the actual procedure, which is considered ‘time for private re-evaluation’. This time increases to seven days in the case of pregnancy between the 12th and 22nd weeks.

Abortions in State-Run Facilities

The main method used by state hospitals is dilation and curettage (75 percent in 2011), although this not recommended by the WHO (World Health Organization) as it has risks and can lead to infertility. The procedure is performed under general anaesthetic, and while the abortion is free, the anaesthetic must be paid for. Other methods available for women to choose are vacuum aspiration and abortions induced by drugs, although there is a charge for these procedures.

Referrals are normally made by the personal doctor to a state-run hospital with a gynaecological department. The documents necessary for the procedure are proof of identity such as a passport and a medical record card (which is also a proof of national medical insurance coverage).

Abortions in Private Facilities

For foreign nationals, it is more common to use private facilities for all types of medical care, and there is generally a higher level of care and safer procedures used. Referrals are not necessary. Many private clinics and hospitals offer this service, paid for by insurance or directly by the patient if it is not included in medical cover, and all establishments use methods recommended by WHO. Options for methods of abortion available should be checked with the chosen facility.

To read more about the main hospitals and clinics in Moscow and St Petersburg with English-speaking staff and private medical care in general, see the section on Private Healthcare.

After the Procedure

After the operation, the woman has the right to three days of sick leave and is also directed to the consultative centres of family planning for consultations about the range of modern contraceptive methods available.

Family Planning Information

More information on family planning services, contraception and the termination of pregnancies, can be accessed in most major cities, either through public or private clinics, although the vast majority of state doctors will be Russian and speak little or no English.

In Moscow, the government-run Center of Family Planning and Reproduction is one of the best places in Russia for information and assistance into all kinds of infertility issues and treatment. A similar organisation in St Petersburg is also listed below.

Moscow

St Petersburg