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The Russian Orthodox Church reaffirmed its strict opposition to abortion this week, putting it at odds with the Kremlin’s more relaxed position.
A spokesperson for the church released a statement on Wednesday clarifying that the Holy Synod — the church’s governing body chaired by Patriarch Kirill of Moscow — condemns all elective abortion as murder.
“The Church unequivocally equates arbitrary surgical or medical abortion to murder, regardless of the gestational age and the manner in which it is carried out,” said church spokesman Vladimir Legoyda, according to translations from the Moscow Times.
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Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill conducts a prayer service marking the 1035th anniversary of the Baptism of Rus, the ancient word for Russia, at the monument to Vladimir the Great near the Kremlin in central Moscow. ( (Photo by Alexander NEMENOV/AFP) (Photo by ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP via Getty Images))
“For that reason, the proclamation of the ‘right to an abortion,’ otherwise the ‘right to murder,’ is unacceptable,” Legoyda added.
The church’s comprehensive rejection of abortion puts it at odds with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has previously affirmed that women have a limited “right” to terminate their pregnancies.
Putin nixed a federal bill this month that would have outlawed private abortion clinics across Russia.
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Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill (L) watches President Vladimir Putin on screen during the 15th World Russian People’s Congress at the State Kremlin Palace in Moscow, Russia. Putin spoke via video link to participants of the congress, hosted by the Russian Orthodox Church. (Photo by Contributor/Getty Images)
The president urged pregnant women considering abortion to “choose to keep the life of the child,” but called on officials to “respect for the rights and freedoms of women.”
Elective abortion is legal in Russia up to 12 weeks and under special circumstances up to 22 weeks.
Russia’s Holy Synod urges the creation of crisis centers that can offer material support to pregnant women without sufficient resources to help them “fulfill their vocation as mothers after childbirth,” according to Legoyda.
He added, “At the same time, without rejecting the women who have had an abortion, the Church calls on them to repent and to overcome the harmful consequences of sin through prayer and penance.”
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Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill (L) talking during a wreath-laying ceremony at the Monument to Minin and Pozharsky on Red Square on the National Unity Day in Moscow. ((Photo by Gavriil GRIGOROV/POOL/AFP) (Photo by GAVRIIL GRIGOROV/POOL/AFP via Getty Images))
Putin has announced that he is running for re-election on March 17, which will almost certainly see him secure a fifth six-year term in office. A change to the country’s constitution will allow him to run again in 2030, which could see his authority extend to 2036. He secured 76% of the vote in 2018, though international bodies question the democratic legitimacy of Russian elections.
Putin has held continuous positions as president or prime minister since 1999. He has been president since 2012, with his previous stint in office running from 2000 to 2008.
Timothy Nerozzi is a writer for Fox News Digital. You can follow him on Twitter @timothynerozzi and can email him at [email protected]