© Global Look Press / Nir Alon
A senior cleric has compared the amount of abortions in Russia to the losses suffered during WWII as the Russian Orthodox Church continues to push for an abortion ban.
How many (people) did we kill ourselves? More than during the Second World War.
That's what Dimitry Smirnov, head of the Patriarchy Commission for Family, stated at a forum on reproductive health.

He said high abortion rates were a "mass murder of Russian children" and "worse than the Holocaust."

The cleric also called for public opinion on abortions to change, saying that a tolerant attitude to the issue will lead the Russian nation to "suicide."

He also reiterated that free abortions should be banned, arguing that state funds shouldn't be used to "kill its own citizens."

Smirnov's words are in line with efforts from the Russian Orthodox Church to tighten the country's historically liberal laws on abortion in an attempt to reverse falling birth rates and to endorse "family values."

Though the procedure is legal and free in Russia, some regions try to find the ways to restrict women's reproductive rights.

In January, the governor of the Penza Region in Central Russia came up with a controversial initiative, ordering municipal heads to personally talk women out of ending their pregnancy.

The idea made headlines in Russia and caused another round of public debates on the topic among "pro-life" and "pro-choice" groups. Despite a significant reduction in the abortion-to-birth ratio since the mid-1990s, Russia remains the country with one of the highest abortion rates, according to the UN.