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Petersburg lawmakers vote against legal fights for fetuses

September 27, 2012, 1:55 UTC+3

Representatives of all parliamentary factions came out against the plan even before the voting

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ST PETERSBURG, September 27 (Itar-Tass) —— St Petersbourg legislative assembly objected to the proposal to amend the Constitution of the Russian Federation to grant legal rights to fetuses. The proposal made by Vitaly Milonov, member of the United Russia faction, aims, above all, at banning abortion.

Most Petersburg lawmakers, at the Legislative Assembly’s meeting on Wednesday, voted against making such a proposal to the State Duma. Only seven MPs voted in favor, and three abstained.

Milonov intended to propose to the lower house of Russian parliament the new wording of part 2, Article 17 of Russia’s fundamental law to the effect that inalienable human rights and freedoms should start from the moment of the first heartbeat, that is when the fetus is still in the womb. Fundamental human rights, including the right to live, are so far acknowledged from the moment of birth. Some deputies said that should the amendment be adopted this would actually mean the ban on abortion and would cause a set of legal, ethical and medical problems.

Representatives of all parliamentary factions came out against the plan even before the voting. Speaker of the Legislative Assembly Vyacheslav Makarov, representative of the United Russia Party, remarked that the amendment had no chances at the federal level. “I do believe that raising this matter does nothing to augment the prestige of the Legislative Assembly. I am sure the deputies will not vote for this proposal,” he added.

“I hope we will not approach the federal authorities with such an initiative,” said Alexei Kovalyov, the head of A Just Russia faction. Konstantin Sukhenko of the LDRR, the head of the budget and finance committee of the Legislative Assembly, said, too, that “the decision will not be made today.”

Meanwhile Mikhail Brodsky, representative of St Petersburg governor in the Legislative Assembly, pointed out that it is “only ideologically” that the proposal is linked to banning abortion, which experts mention. Still it is impossible to amend this part of the Constitution by adopting some legislative act. It takes the decision of the Constitutional Assembly, which is impossible to convene as any operating bill on this body is lacking.

Milonov, in his turn, acknowledged that “the deputies’ reaction is predictable”, but he hopes that “this [proposal] will become the starting point for a broad public debate”. He believes that at present “there is no moral readiness to censure those who kill babies – this is psychologically uncomfortable.” Meanwhile, the MP said, according to official data only, some 40 million abortions were made in Russia in the past twenty years, which is comparable to the population of Ukraine.

Milonov earlier became the author of the municipal bill that established in St Petersburg from March 2012 administrative responsibility for propaganda of homosexuality and of other non-traditional forms of sex among minors, as well as for propaganda of pedophilia.

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