|“Abortion Will Deprive You of Happiness!”: Soviet Reproductive Politics in the 1950s and 1960s|
|In 1955 the Soviet government legalized abortion -- for a second time. Communist authorities first legalized abortion in 1920 but then changed course during the Stalin era and recriminalized it. Because of Stalin’s death in 1953, and the reforms and cultural “thaw” that emerged under Khrushchev’s subsequent leadership, it is tempting to see the 1955 legalization of abortion as part of a broader relaxation in state control. And yet the legalization of abortion was accompanied by a vociferous state-sponsored pronatalist and anti-abortion campaign.
This paper investigates the Soviet pronatalist and anti-abortion campaign of the 1950s and 1960s as a window on Communist authorities’ efforts to continue to regulate Soviet sexualities. By examining the sanitary-enlightenment work of clinics and organizations (e.g., lectures and discussions), popular health magazines and literature, posters, and films, it analyzes the ways in which the campaign produced discourses of gender and the female body to help foster reproduction and “healthy” heterosexuality among the Soviet populace.|