According to the testimony of doctors, women who decide to have an abortion, during ultrasound diagnostics, categorically refuse to look at the baby still living in their womb. Refuse to listen to the beating of his little heart. Do they understand everything and internally resist this step? However, from the point of view of modern legislation, an unborn child is not a human being. It’s just a piece of meat. Biomaterial. The situation could be changed by the adoption of a law on bioethics, which would define the legal personality of the human embryo. The most important aspects of the development of this law were discussed on April 8 at a round table held at the Moscow State Law Academy named after O. E. Kutafin.
Did you know that the population of Russia now could approach 190 million? It could, if not for one “but”: since 1992, about 46.5 million abortions have been performed in our country. The annual number of induced abortions is comparable to the rate of natural population decline. Or even exceeds those. A very simple conclusion suggests itself: a decrease in the number of abortions in itself would provide an increase in the number of citizens of our country. And then, perhaps, there would be no need for the national project “Demography”.
However, even with this national project, not everything is so simple. According to the deputy of the State Duma Pyotr Tolstoy, who operates with the data of the Accounts Chamber, even its implementation in full will not solve the problem of the decline in the population of Russia.
In our opinion, this project should be supplemented with new effective tools. Perhaps it is necessary to change the approaches to solving certain problems,
– the parliamentarian considers.
The Bioethics Law is designed to become one of these tools. What issues will it regulate?
The law to be awaited
Science and medical technology have made great strides. Organ transplantation, IVF, surrogacy, interference with the human genetic code are not science fiction, but an objective reality. To this we add the controversy about the moment from which human life begins – the problem of abortion is directly tied to this topic. Finally, euthanasia, as you know, is already allowed in a number of countries, including for children.
All these topics cause a very emotional public discussion, but their legal regulation, to put it mildly, leaves much to be desired. The law on bioethics is called upon to dot all the “i’s” in the indicated issues, to give clear boundaries – what is possible and what is not.
Nikolai Govorin, Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Health Protection Committee, Doctor of Medical Sciences, during his speech at the round table, emphasized that in modern realities, it is the bioethical aspects of the activities of medical workers that require the creation of special control mechanisms that would be based on the requirements of conscience and the inviolability of moral principles.
As an example showing the need for ethical regulation, the expert cites transplantation:
We see that today the complex issues of the removal of organs and tissues from a living donor or a corpse, the issues of ascertaining the death of a person according to the criteria of brain death, issues of the distribution of donor organs or tissues for the recipient are very clearly resolved. At the same time, there is no regulatory support with patient protection.
Also, according to Govorin, situations are not uncommon when impoverished people decide to sell their organs in order to earn money. And this phenomenon also needs to be given an ethical assessment.
“Donation from living people should be justified only if bioethical principles are observed – when saving a person becomes impossible by other means, or when the benefit from organ transplantation to the recipient is greater than the damage to the donor’s health. These are very important and delicate issues that should be addressed when developing a law “, – said the parliamentarian.
Many ethical questions, according to Nikolai Govorin, arise in psychiatric practice, where, as we remember, treatment is not always based on voluntary consent. Yes, and in other areas of health, there are also enough of them.
When does life begin?
However, let’s get back to our specifics. The question of the ethics of abortion, as mentioned above, is directly related to the idea of when to count the period of human life. Irina Siluyanova, Doctor of Philosophy, Professor of the Department of Bioethics at the Russian National Research University named after N.I. Pirogov, said that there are twelve positions on this issue, six of which are natural sciences, and six are humanitarian.
First, about what the natural sciences say. Some researchers believe that life begins at 20 weeks of embryonic development – at this time, the first respiratory movement of the fetus is recorded. Another position is that life should be counted from the first heartbeat, this is 4 weeks. As Irina Siluyanova said, in the United States, in the state of Ohio, a law has recently been passed prohibiting abortion after fixing the first fetal heart beat.
Another point of view is the countdown of life from 6 weeks, when the brain stem begins to function. The next natural science position is that life begins at 14 days, when the precursor of the nervous tissue is formed. Finally, the last two points of view from the side of natural sciences: life begins with the implantation of a blastocyst into the wall of the uterus (this is 5-6 days) or from the very moment of the fusion of the female and male cells.
Humanitarian approaches to determining the date of the beginning of human life are diverse, but only one of them – sociologism – says that the counting of our life should begin from birth.
“We conduct a comparative analysis. It turns out that all of the listed positions are the same, and only sociologism, which fixes human life from the moment of birth, opposes all existing moral and scientific approaches,” says Irina Siluyanova.
Meanwhile, it is sociologism that underlies our legislation: a person becomes a subject of law from birth.
It turns out that the law in force now is anti-scientific: it opposes all positions that exist in science today. But if the law is unscientific, then in general the situation turns out to be some kind of absurd, because the concept of “law” is the personification of science itself. And if legally a law is unscientific, then it cannot be a law at all. Moreover, the concept of “law” arises in the moral consciousness, even to natural science, it has nothing to do. In the universal moral law, the biblical Decalogue, we see that there is a law “Thou shalt not kill.” And our legislation somehow does not take into account this universal moral law,
– the expert notes.
A similar opinion about the relationship between morality and law is shared by Russian President Vladimir Putin:
“I am convinced that the law cannot be immoral, the law is always moral, otherwise it is a bad law.”
It turns out that now we live according to an anti-scientific and immoral law that allows abortions “at will” at gestational age up to 12 weeks, and for social reasons – up to 22 weeks?
The dignity of the unborn
According to State Duma Deputy Inga Yumasheva, the principle of respect for human dignity should become the basis of the law on bioethics, which should also apply to unborn children.
“Today we must abandon the perception of abortion as an ethically neutral topic and realize the moral collisions that arise as a result of such a step. It is important to understand that abortion is not a solution to the problem, as is often presented to us in various discussions, but a great tragedy,” believes Yumasheva.
According to the parliamentarian, the problem of abortion has many aspects. These are both health risks for women and the position of doctors, since they are forced to do things that are contrary to the essence of their profession.
And, of course, abortion is a tragedy that affects our entire nation, because we are losing population at the very moment when a woman, for one reason or another, often not from a good life, decides not to give birth to the life that is nascent in her. ,
– Yumasheva is sure.
The MP believes that one of the first steps in solving the problem should be the signing by Russia of the Geneva Declaration on the basis of consensus on the health and well-being of the family: this international document puts the principle of taking care of children even before their birth and proclaims the rejection of abortion as a means of family planning. … Well, on the basis of the declaration, it is already necessary to develop national laws and regulations.
Manipulation of public opinion
Obviously, even at the stage of development, the law on bioethics will face serious resistance, and when it comes to discussing the project in parliament, the “democratic community” will literally howl about violations of human rights. There is nothing to be surprised at: the legal mess in this important issue has a lot of interested parties.
Judge for yourself. At the moment, abortions are performed under the compulsory medical insurance scheme. In 2020 alone, about 630 thousand artificial abortions of pregnancy were made in Russia, of which only an insignificant amount is done for medical and social reasons. This is a huge amount of money (about 5 billion rubles a year) that is guaranteed to go to healthcare institutions. But if the law on bioethics determines the legal personality of the human embryo, then the opportunity to have abortions “at will,” presumably, will be sharply reduced. And they will certainly be removed from the CHI system. That is, specialized clinics will lose this cash flow.
Nina Zhukova, the co-chair of the board of the Union of Orthodox Women, Candidate of Historical Sciences, said that after Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia proposed removing abortion from the compulsory medical insurance system, representatives of 32 regional branches of the Union met with legislators of the constituent entities of Russia with a request to support the initiative of the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church. At the moment, it was supported only by the Samara Provincial Duma.
The rest refused to discuss the proposal, arguing that it is better for women to do it in state clinics with public money, rather than they go to have an abortion anywhere and die.
– recalls Nina Zhukova.
Meanwhile, the withdrawal of artificial abortions “at will” from the compulsory medical insurance system should not lead to an increase in criminal abortions. And for what reason? Let’s say a woman who decides to get rid of a child without medical and social indications will be forced to do it for her own money. And where will she go? To some clandestine “workshop” or still to a clinic that has an appropriate license, which guarantees compliance with all the necessary standards and is responsible for its work?
It is clear that a sane person will choose the second option. But then all the talk about “women will die after criminal abortions” is an attempt to manipulate public opinion for certain purposes. Moreover, a generously paid attempt.
No less fierce resistance, presumably, will cause a possible limitation of the use of reproductive technology of in vitro fertilization (IVF): as Tsargrad wrote, the state can allocate about 54 billion rubles within the framework of the compulsory medical insurance for the implementation of IVF until 2024. But if the law on bioethics provides a clear legal regulation of this issue, interested parties will lose this money.
A separate question is about surrogacy. According to State Duma Deputy Pyotr Tolstoy, an entire “farm” of surrogate mothers was discovered in the southeast of Moscow. According to the parliamentarian, this “business” is flourishing in Russia – the approximate market size is about 2.5 billion euros. Such funds allow interested parties to support all kinds of NGOs, “public activists” and even lobbyists in the government, who, when trying to put things in order in this matter, raise an information wave in “independent” media and social networks.
Once again: any attempts to oppose the development and adoption of a law on bioethics is by no means about protecting human rights. This is about a lot of money that interested parties will lose when this law comes into force. Therefore, all the upcoming sobs of “people with bright faces” on this topic should be taken from this angle.