Hilarion Patriarchate
Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, Chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, Moscow, Russia.
Human life has an absolute value and rape is not grounds for abortion. That's according to the Russian Orthodox Church, which revealed that the institution's official stance is that termination of pregnancy can never be justified.

Speaking to TV channel Russia 24, Metropolitan Hilarion, the Moscow Patriarchate's official spokesman, said the circumstances of conception are not a good reason to terminate a pregnancy.

"The church's opinion is that even if a girl gets pregnant as a result of rape, this is not a reason to have an abortion," he said.

The Metropolitan also claimed that clergymen have experience working with rape victims who decided to keep a child, and "the child subsequently brought them happiness."

"An unborn baby is still already a baby. It is a person. It is a living being. Every such person has the right to be born," he said.

The Orthodox Church has long been opposed to abortion and has even supported proposals to include abortions in mortality statistics. It has also suggested granting human rights to embryos.

The leader of the Russian Church, Patriarch Kirill, once compared abortion to the death penalty, urging women who are not ready to raise children to turn them over to the church instead.

"If we refuse the death penalty because we recognize the inviolability of life, then why are abortion and euthanasia considered acceptable, because both are destroying human life?" he said.

However, despite the church's opposition, it has not proposed a legal ban on abortion, with church spokesman Vladimir Legoyda noting last year that it has a "more flexible" position. The institution does not wish to see it prohibited but wants it removed from the country's Compulsory Medical Insurance Fund, he said.

Comment: It's notable that, despite the Church's stance that appears to be lacking in compassion and nuance, it isn't calling for abortion to be banned. This discussion also applies to a minority of cases.

In 1920, Soviet Russia became the world's first country to legalize the voluntary termination of pregnancy. In the years since then, it has been banned and then re-introduced.