Around 150 people gathered in Makhachkala on 14 July calling for a ban on abortion. The protest was followed by heated exchanges on social media over the issue.
The Give Me Life rally was organised by the Daghestan’s Ministry of Health. According to a spokesperson of the ministry, Zarina Murtuzaliyeva, it is held annually.
Employees the ministry attended the rally, announcing that the number of abortions being performed in the republic is on the decline.
‘For example, in 2015 there were 7,703 recorded abortions in the republic, while in 2016 it was 7,274’, Raisa Shakhsinova, head of the ministry's Maternity Department said at the rally.
‘The initiative was started by the Social-Political Initiatives Fund, chaired by Svetlana Medvedeva, the wife of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. The rally was first held in 2008 and has been held every year since then’, Murtuzaliyeva told OC Media.
After the rally was reported in the media, people took to social media to debate the issue, both for and against a ban.
‘Who gave the right to these protesters to decide for other women and girls. Why reproduce in poverty, abortion is better. And if a woman’s health is in danger, it is all the more necessary. This is a private issue for each woman’, one Facebook user Raisa Magomedova wrote in the group, Daghestan online.
‘Giving birth to a child nowadays costs no less than ₽100,000 ($1,700). And what’s next? When the child is ill — ₽4,000–5,000 ($67–84). Feeding them is about ₽5,000–7,000 ($67–118) a month. Dressing them, buying shoes, taking them to school — at least ₽25,000 ($450), not less. And then kindergarten? Where is it? If the father disappears, mother has to work, and work were?’ Alie Karaewa asks.
Users in favour of an abortion ban also wrote their arguments.
‘I don’t support abortions at all, or the right of an adult person to have one. The question is about depriving life of a healthy, I emphasise, child and your arguments sound barbaric’, one Facebook user Aibatir Babalaev writes.
‘God says: “food for one person will be enough for two, food for two — enough for three”. They will not die of starvation, and religion has a different approach to the number of children. Islam calls for you to have many children’, Muhammad wrote.
Online debate over abortion rights flares up intermittently in Daghestan.
In September 2016, head of the Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill approved an initiative to fully ban abortion proposed by the Orthodox Volunteer, a non-governmental organisation. The Head of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov and the leader of Russian Muslims, Mufti Talgat Tadzhuddin have also given their support.