“Happiness of Motherhood”

Last week, I read a post about gender roles and it talked about how Stalin made abortion illegal because of the negative impact he thought it would have on the population. When I was looking at the events of 1956, I came across the reversal of this order. They had decided to make abortion legal again because they thought illegal abortion would be too unsafe and further hurt the population. However, they government would still strongly discouraged having abortion. in 1956 alone there were 20,000 antiabortion lectures.[1]

Stop! Now abortion seems necessary. But remember, it might forever deprive you of the happiness of motherhood! K. Ivanov: Stop! (196Smilie: 8)

Along with the legalization of abortion came books, posters, movies, and other forms of media to discourage women from having an abortion. There were also fiction books that showed the reasons to legalize abortions, mainly the dangers of having abortion. One such book, Quiet Flows the Don, by Mikhail Sholokhov graphically explained what happened why illegal abortions took place. Below is a small excerpt from his book, a larger portion can be found here.

“We only heal the sick and we haven’t learned yet how to resurrect the dead. Your little woman has been so cut up that she’s got nothing to live with. The uterus is torn to shreds. The old woman must have gone at it with an iron hook. It’s the price of our benighted ignorance. Can’t be helped!’…” [2]

The language and descriptions used in this book surprised me because even today the topic of abortions is almost considered taboo. Yet this book was written in 1996 and uses very precise imagery to talk about abortions.

L. Aristov: For you, Comrade Men (1962)

Another aspect that I found interesting during this time was the importance placed on men in the abortion process. It was mentioned that during the Stalin era, fathers and husbands were marginalized and single mother families were endorsed. [3] However, during the Khrushchev era, the fatherhood role began to become more prominent. [4] The poster above refers to a movement that encouraged men to be more involved in the abortion decision. It stated, “sometimes a husband tries to avoid any discussion about the artificial termination of a pregnancy, giving his wife the “right” to decide this herself. This behavior can never be justified. Who, if not the husband, the father of the future child, should protect the health and life of a wife, the happiness of the family?” [5]

The media that was put out during this time also insinuated that women that have abortions would later end up being depressed and lonely as they would become infertile and have marriage problems. So although it was legal, the negative side was far more highlighted than any positive side. This topic caught my attention me because it almost reminded me of everything I’ve been seeing in the news lately about reproductive rights.

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