Despite the fact that the 1936 ban on abortions was lifted in 1955, this did not signify a societal change in the way that abortions were ultimately viewed. With the ban being repealed, the government strived to make abortions safer for women by preventing illegal and unsafe abortions from occurring as commonly as they did during the nearly 20 years that the ban was in place. However, this does not mean that the government as a whole was going to voice their support for abortions as a whole. Following the repeal of the abortion ban, both medical professionals and activists began an antiabortion campaign that was used as a way to both spread pronationalist propaganda while also teaching the public about the negatives associated with abortion. During this campaign, health related articles and pamphlets would be filled with warnings such as, “don’t deprive yourself or motherhood” and “abortion doesn’t happen without consequences,” while movies would “emphasize how ending a pregnancy could lead to irreparable harm by destroying a woman’s chances of becoming a mother.” The image shown above states, “Stop! Now abortion seems necessary. But remember, it might forever deprive you of the happiness of motherhood!”
Even though the repeal of the ban revolved around the findings, which showed that abortions were safer when they were legalized as compared to when they were illegal, those leading the campaign still focused on how dangerous abortions are, no matter what. Despite the lack of evidence to prove their claims, these same campaign leaders would commonly suggest that having an abortion would leave women infertile and thus unable to have a child at a later time if they so pleased. In addition to this, this campaign also suggested that women who had abortions would ruin their relationships with their families and thus be left in a permanent state of loneliness. We can see an example of this in the image of a propaganda poster shown below, which states “abortion has dangerous consequences. Don’t condemn yourself to solitude!”
While this campaign was run primarily as a tactic to scare people enough that they would follow along with plans laid out by the regime, data shows that it did not actually decrease the number of abortions preformed. As we can see with these statistics, the number of abortions preformed in 1955 to 1956 increased by about two and a half million abortions. This increase continued for a decade until the high number of abortions became the “norm” around 1966. However, the campaign was successful in contributing to the change in societal norms and gender roles. This can be shown by the fact that the campaign called for fathers to play a bigger part in family matter, showing a greater amount of responsibility and concern. An example of this can be seen in the work, “For You, Comrade Men,” in which L. Aristov calls for men to take a larger role in persuading women not to get abortions. In this, Aristov states, “who, if not the husband, the father of the future child, should protect the health and life of a wife, the happiness of the family?” Thus, while abortion is an issue still very controversial today, its legalization played a part in initiating a more modern day society.
Amy E. Randall, “Repealing the Ban on Abortion,” Seventeen Moments in Soviet History, (Soviet History MSU, 1996), http://soviethistory.msu.edu/1956-2/repealing-the-ban-on-abortion/
A. Rudkovich, “Abortion has Dangerous Consequences,” Seventeen Moments in Soviet History, (Soviet History MSU, 1965), http://soviethistory.msu.edu/1956-2/repealing-the-ban-on-abortion/repealing-the-ban-on-abortion-images/#bwg152/826
K. Ivanov, “Stop!,” Seventeen Moments in Soviet History, (Soviet History MSU, 1968), http://soviethistory.msu.edu/1956-2/repealing-the-ban-on-abortion/repealing-the-ban-on-abortion-images/#bwg152/827
L. Aristov, “For You, Comrade Men,” Seventeen Moments in Soviet History, (Soviet History MSU, 1962), http://soviethistory.msu.edu/1956-2/repealing-the-ban-on-abortion/repealing-the-ban-on-abortion-texts/for-you-comrade-men/
Wm. Robert Johnston, “Historical Abortion Statistics, U.S.S.R.,” Seventeen Moments in Soviet History, (Johnston’s Archive, 2017), http://www.johnstonsarchive.net/policy/abortion/ab-ussr.html