(Visitors watch a multimedia show at the "Russian Orthodox Church Revival, 1991-2011" exhibition in Moscow, November 5, 2011. REUTERS/Ivan Sekretarev/Pool)

Women of all ages used to fill gynecologist Lyubov Yerofeyeva’s Soviet state clinic, lined up by the dozen for back-to-back abortions. “It was more common to take sick days for an abortion than for a cold in those days,” she said.

Two decades after the Soviet Union’s collapse, wider availability of contraception and a resurgence of religion have reduced the numbers of abortions overall, but termination remains the top method of birth control in Russia.

Its abortion rate — 1.3 million, or 73 per 100 births in 2009 — is the world’s highest.

Backed by the Russian Orthodox Church, an influential anti-abortion lobby is driving a moral crusade to tighten legislation and shift public attitudes that are largely a legacy of the Soviet era.