The head of the Russian Orthodox Church has signed a petition calling for a legal ban on abortion.
Patriarch Kirill met antiabortion campaigners before endorsing the petition urging the ban, which will be handed to President Vladimir Putin.
The patriarch's endorsement on September 27 represents a hardening of the church's position. It has previously only called for a ban on state-provided abortions that are not medically necessary.
The church's statement said that the wording of the petition, which calls for "the end of legal murder of children before birth," was approved by its commission on family and protecting motherhood and childhood.
The petition says the signatories "demand legislative amendments" to ban "surgical" and "drug-induced" abortions and the morning-after pill.
In May, Kirill called abortions "truly a national catastrophe carrying away the lives of more than 1 million of our fellow citizens every year."
So far, the petition has gathered more than 300,000 signatures, about one-third of the 1 million goal set by petition organizers.
Based on reporting by AFP and TVRain.ru