Vladimir Putin has sparked international outcry by banning adoptions of Russian children by American families. Putin made his move on December 28, the day of the Holy Innocents, immediately halting the departure of hundreds of Russian orphans about to board planes to a new life. It was a cruel, callous move.
No country adopts as many Russian children as America. There have been 60,000 adoptions by American couples since the collapse of the Soviet Union. That has now suddenly ended.
Why would Putin do this? The main reason, widely cited by the media, seems to be retaliation for a recent U.S. law aimed at Russian human-rights abuses. That’s no doubt a factor, but there may be more to the story. Consider:
The reality is that Russia continues to hemorrhage population. Russia’s population is projected to plummet from 140 million to 104 million by 2050. And what are the chief causal factors? There are several, but the two biggest are abortion and contraception—which occur at astonishingly high levels. Putin has tried to reverse both.
Abortion has wreaked havoc on Russia since the Bolsheviks legalized it a century ago. Soviet communists were way ahead of American liberals. By the 1970s, when abortion was legalized in America, the Soviet Union was already witnessing a staggering 7.2 million abortions per year.
The Cold War ended in the 1990s, but Russia’s runaway rates of abortion—as well as contraception—did not.
In response, Vladimir Putin has implemented the first restrictions on abortion in Russia in almost 50 years, limiting abortions to within 12 weeks. He even initiated a National Fertility Day.
Unfortunately, none of this has really worked.
And so, how might the adoption ban fit into this? Well, adopted Russians by foreigners—especially by Americans—means more Russians leaving Russia. By banning adoptions, Putin’s country can retain more Russians. There may be a measure of pure demographics and nationalism behind his decision.
If this is truly Vladimir Putin’s thinking, then we can’t rule out abortion and contraception as handmaidens to this horrible situation.
For Catholic Exchange dot com and Ave Maria Radio, I’m Paul Kengor.