Russia’s ban on baby boxes is causing an uproar because many activists now believe that deceased infants will be found in trash bins and forests.
This week, the Russian government backed a very controversial proposal being pushed by Senator Yelena Mizulina, a representative of the social democratic party, A Just Russia.
Mizulina, the Chairman of the Duma Committee on Family, Women and Children Affairs, is pushing the government to remove all baby boxes in the country.
The author of the bill is not only pushing for the boxes to be removed; she wants to fine any organization caught installing them up to 5 million roubles ($79,000). The lawmaker also intends to close any organization caught ignoring the ban for 90 days.
Russia’s baby boxes law is similar to America’s Safely Surrendered Baby Law, which allows people to safely and anonymously give up an infant 72 hours after their birth at a hospital or fire station. The law was put in place to save lives of newborn infants at risk of abandonment.
Similar laws exist in Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Canada, and Japan. According to Mizulina’s official website, she wants the ban because:
“of Russian obligations under Convention on the Rights of the Child. It is noted that baby boxes violate Articles 6-9 and 19 of this international treaty.”
The politician also claims that the boxes encouraged struggling mothers to abandon their newborns. She believes that the ban will end “criminal trade in babies.” There are 20 baby boxes spread out in Russia where a mother can anonymously leave a child.
Those boxes are located in hospitals and religious organizations in Krasnodar, Perm, Kamchatka, Leningrad, and Moscow. Since 2011, 50 newborns have been saved thanks to the boxes. Many say that the ban will sadly mean that more babies will be found in trash bins, abandon houses, and forest all over the country. One Russian woman said:
“Bans will solve nothing. After banning abortions and baby boxes the number of underground abortions will grow, as well as children abandoned at rubbish dumps, left to die.”
Gynecologists say the ban might lead to illegal abortions that would pose health risks to women. Before setting her sight on the ban, Mizulina proposed an extensive list of controversial bills and made eye-raising comments.
She asked that a tax be put on divorces, condemned births out of wedlock, and she opposed the adoption of Russian children by US citizens. Mizulina is also anti-gay and has actively advocated for multiple births.
Moreover, she pushed a bill preventing women from getting to college before giving birth. Muzilina, who is anti-abortion, firmly believes that a woman needs to get her husband’s consent before terminating a pregnancy. She also said that:
“A fine of 1 million rubles on doctors and medical institutions that carried out abortions on women without providing them a ‘waiting period’ to reflect on their decision to abort.I proposed to fine the pregnant women that did not respect this “quiet time” up to 3,000–5,000 rubles.”
The ban on baby boxes comes just days after a campaign to restrict abortion rights in Russia being pushed by Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill began in full force.