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Russian Orthodox Church has ‘soft & flexible’ stance on abortion & does not demand practice be made illegal, spokesman reveals

Speaking on Saturday to RTVI, a New York-based Russian-language channel aimed at expats, Legoyda revealed that the Church is not entirely against the termination of pregnancy being legal.

“We are taking a softer and more flexible position in this case: we demand [abortion] be withdrawn from the compulsory health insurance fund,” he said. The Compulsory Medical Insurance Fund is a taxpayer-funded state program that guarantees the provision of free medical care for a wide range of illnesses.

Russia’s religious debate around abortion hit the headlines in November, after Oleg Apolikhin, the chief fertility specialist at the Ministry of Health, suggested creating ‘abortion centers,’ that would be used exclusively for pregnancy terminations. Apolikhin expressed the opinion that terminating a pregnancy had become fashionable and instead wanted to change it into a “socially negative phenomenon.” The specialist also suggested removing abortion from the schedule of state-provided care.

His suggestion was knocked back by the ministry itself, which disagreed with both proposals. However, this idea has complete support from the Russian Orthodox Church, which also agrees with Apolikhin’s view that doctors should be able to refuse to perform an abortion.

“The Church has repeatedly said that doctors who, per their religious beliefs or internal convictions, do not want to perform abortion surgeries, should be able to not perform them,” Legoyda wrote on Telegram in November.

The leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, has previously called abortion a sinful practice, believing that terminating a pregnancy because of a discovered abnormality is “even criminal.”

In his opinion, abortion should not be an option just because an embryo “might not make a good football player, or a good lawyer, or a very strong and healthy person.”

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