Paul  Kengor
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Editor’s note: A longer version of this article first appeared at National Catholic Register.

Vladimir Putin has sparked international outcry by banning adoptions of Russian children by American families. His action immediately halted the departure of hundreds of Russian orphans about to board planes to journey to a new life. It was a cruel move, widely condemned as “callous” and “vindictive.”

No country adopts as many Russian children as America. According to the State Department, there have been 60,000 adoptions by American couples since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. That has now suddenly ended.

Why would Putin do this? The main reason seems to be retaliation for a recent U.S. law aimed at curtailing human-rights abuses by Russia’s corrupt government. The Magnitsky Act bans Russian officials who have committed abuses from entry into the United States. The ban on U.S. adoptions by Putin and his cronies appears to be retaliation.

Yet, there is a possible added motivation to Putin’s action. Consider:

The reality is that Russia continues to bleed population. For about a decade and a half now, projections have been that Russia’s population will plummet from 140-150 million to 104 million by 2050. What are the chief causal factors in this? There are several, but among the biggest is abortion, which occurs in Russia at an astonishingly high level. Putin has tried to slow the hemorrhage, but has failed to do so.

A little background: Abortion was legalized in Russia by the Bolsheviks shortly after they seized power in October 1917. Vladimir Lenin made good on his promise for an “unconditional annulment of all laws against abortion.” In short order, the number of abortions skyrocketed. By 1934, Moscow women were having three abortions for every live birth. The toll was so staggering that an appalled Joseph Stalin, the mass murderer, actually banned abortion in 1936, fearing a vanishing populace.

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