In 1920, the Soviet Union became the first country in the world to legalize abortion on demand. But in 1936, the Soviet leadership criminalized abortion: the collectivization of the early 1930s was followed by famine that took the lives of millions of people, and the government grew eager to recover the population. Drawing on an amazing wealth of archival material, Nakachi traces the dynamic of Soviet reproductive policies that were invariably guided by pronatalist goals but almost always had damaging consequences. The 1944 Family Law, aimed at making up for the enormous human losses of World War II (27 million people died, 20 million of them men), relieved men of parental responsibilities, legal or financial, thereby encouraging them to father children out of wedlock. Given the devastation of the war and inadequate levels of government support, many women sought to avoid such births. Their only recourse was abortion, which remained illegal and, as a result, often led to grave medical complications or even death—on top of being criminally punishable. Doctors were generally sympathetic to the women’s plight but they could not challenge the system. It was only in the mid-1950s that abortion was decriminalized, but until the end of the Soviet Union, modern contraception was barely available and abortion remained the primary method of birth control.