MOSCOW, April 22 (UPI) -- Lawmakers in Russia say they are considering a bill to disqualify abortion as a medical service, allowing doctors to refuse to perform the operations.
"The bill aims to create the conditions for a pregnant woman to opt for giving birth," Yelena Mizulina, head of the State Duma committee for family, women and children, said.
While the committee had previously suggested doctors who perform abortions during the second half of a pregnancy be held criminally responsible, Mizulina said the new bill provided for both administrative and criminal punishments depending on the situation, RIA Novosti reported Friday.
"Doctors' consent to do such operations is not the only problem," Mizulina said. "There are social and legal reasons behind the woman's choice."
The committee was seeking to submit the bill to the Duma for consideration in hopes it could reduce the more than 1 million abortions performed in Russia each year, she said.
Gennady Sukhikh, director of the gynecology center of the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences, said he was opposed to criminal punishment of doctors.
The bill if adopted would give rise to illegal abortions that would result in higher death rates for pregnant women, he said.