Busted by the Baby Boom

The antiabortion measures imposed by Nicolae Ceausescu in the mid-1960s are typically viewed as an example of his repressive policies toward women. Yet the ironic fact is that the abortion restrictions inadvertently -- and literally -- sowed the seeds that helped topple Ceausescu's regime 23 years later.

In 1966 Ceausescu surveyed his country's falling birthrate with despair. The cause, he concluded, was a state decree in 1957 that legalized abortion and made it readily available for a fee of less than $2. By 1965 abortion was the country's primary method of birth control, with four abortions performed for every child born.