His office at the Gorbechev Foundation is dominated by a striking oil painting of her.
We spoke about many subjects – the negative consequences of Perestroika, Western materialism, and the state of relations today between the United States and Russia. Gorbechev commended President Bush for his cordial support of Russian President Vladimir Putin. “If President Bush continues to support Putin’s policies, it will have a great effect on Russia and Europe,” he said. Bush, Gorbechev added, should be congratulated for his relationship with Putin and his interest in Russian security.
Gorbechev also offered his support for the U.S. military actions in Afghanistan. But he cautioned against any further bombing of terrorists in other countries. When asked whether he was thinking of Iraq, with whom Russian has close ties, he didn’t reply.
It seems clear, however, from Gorbechev’s comments, taken together with what I heard in Moscow over several days, that President Bush has achieved a great measure of trust in this country once known as the heart of the “Evil Empire.”
Perhaps even more significant was our conversation about health care for pregnant women and infants. I was surprised to learn about the support that Gorbechev is giving to the building of an abortion-free maternity clinic in a suburb of Moscow. Planned by Ohio trial lawyer, Tom Murray, the clinic has been approved by Moscow’s Ministry of Health with a groundbreaking ceremony set for March 2002.
When it’s completed a year later, the clinic will be the most modern and safe of its kind in Russia, a country that sees eight million abortions each year. Murray’s hope, seconded by Gorbechev, is that this kind of facility will encourage Russian mothers to have their babies and receive the proper care to do so more readily.
I was told that some of the present maternity clinics around Moscow are so filthy and decrepit that many mothers would rather go into the woods to have their children. It is also the case that Russian doctors in medical clinics are often paid only $75 per month, so they feel compelled to set up abortion clinics on the side to add to their meager incomes.
In meeting with leaders of the Orthodox pro-life movement, I discovered there are many pro-life Orthodox doctors who are unable to practice in the present climate but who would be thrilled at the opportunity to serve in the kind of clinic Murray envisions.
Gorbechev’s pledge to aid this endeavor is certainly building an outpost for the culture of life. It’s one more sign of hope in the present cordiality of U.S. – Russian relations.