Birth control is legal throughout Russia, but not encouraged as an official policy. Abortions are legal also, but may be performed legally only in hospitals or by qualified physicians upon permits issued by local commissions to whom women apply. This, however, does not prevent illegal abortions by practitioners to whom women may go when refused permission by the commission. Birth control not being generally understood and abortions being controlled, women are not yet freed from unwilling child-bearing, though the regime is extending its efforts to aid them.
Such are the freedoms of women under the Soviets today, on paper and in practice. On paper they are an advance over the status of women elsewhere in the world, pushing to their logical ends what are only tendencies in other lands. In practice they are a great advance over the very limited position of women before the Revolution.
Here, Baldwin seemed to support the Soviet legalization of abortion and birth control, and generally freeing women from the shackles of “unwilling child-bearing.” This he viewed as an advance, if not “great advance.”
Where did Soviet Russia go from here? The rest of the story is hellacious.
Within a decade, there were millions of abortions. It got so bad that Joseph Stalin, mass-murdering tyrant, was horrified, and actually temporarily banned abortion, given that entire future generations were being wiped out in the womb. Re-legalization took place under Nikita Khrushchev in the mid-1950s. By the 1970s, there was a staggering seven to eight million abortions per year in the USSR. The very worst year for abortion in America, post-Roe, pales to the average year in the Soviet Union. To the extent that Roger Baldwin supported that legalization, here was the bitter fruit.
To that end, the ACLU is a group with some rotten roots, and I believe today, a century later, we are reaping the dark harvest in America. When the ACLU today challenges the liberty of Catholic hospitals to refuse to do abortions—obscene as that challenge is—or blasts bishops for opposing taxpayer-funded contraception, it isn’t a surprise to those of us familiar with the sins of the father.
Dr. Paul Kengor is professor of political science at Grove City College, executive director of The Center for Vision & Values, and author of the book, “The Communist: Frank Marshall Davis, The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mentor.” His other books include "The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism" and "Dupes: How America’s Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century."