Romania’s Pro-Natalist Program
In the early 1960s, Romania’s population growth was reaching zero, which held alarming implications for future labor force and industrialization in the region. In 1966, Romania made abortion illegal in an attempt to try and boost population growth. Abortion was only allowed when the woman was in danger for her life if the pregnancy was allowed to proceed, or if the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest. Additionally, if a woman was older than 45, or had given birth to at least 4 children who were under her care, she could be allowed to abort. Illegal abortions were rampant, and were a criminal offense.
If people were 25 or older, and had no children, regardless of whether they were married or single, were liable to a special tax ranging between ten and twenty percent. The government also made divorce a lot more difficult. Only 28 divorces occurred nationwide one year, a drastic number compared to the 26,000 that occurred the year before.
As an incentive to try and have couples have more children, money was given for the third child, and every subsequent child, and the parents’ income was reduced by 30%. Contraception was not allowed to be imported, and there was no major contraception maker in Romania at the time. The legal age to marry was lowered to 15, and competitions were created among different counties for who had the highest birthrate.
Romania, prior to the population crisis, had a decent birth rate, but abortion was allowed on demand. It wasn’t unusual for a woman to get twenty or more abortions. The increase in education and urbanization/industrialization made many women put having children off. The policies to try and raise the birth rate have been very unsuccessful. People usually don’t react to the incentives as is expected, and there is a serious underground movement to get abortions. It is a topic of much controversy, and the Romanian movie 4 months, 3 weeks, and 2 days is a haunting and magnificent...
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