Decree 770

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Decree 770 was a decree of the communist Romanian government of Nicolae Ceaușescu, signed in 1967. It restricted abortion and contraception, and was intended to create a new and large Romanian population. The term decreței (from the Romanian language word decret, meaning "decree"; diminutive decrețel) is used to refer to those Romanians born during the time period immediately following the decree.

Birth and death rate in Romania from 1950 to 2050. Decree 770 was signed by Nicolae Ceaușescu in 1967. The birthrate surged in 1967 and returned to its previous trend as people found ways to circumvent the decree.

Origin of the decree[edit]

Before 1968, the Romanian abortion policy was one of the most liberal in Europe. Because the availability of contraceptive methods was poor, abortion became the foremost method of Romanian family planning.[citation needed]

Through a combination of Romania's postwar modernization, high participation of women in the workforce, and a low standard of living, the number of births significantly decreased after the 1950s, reaching its lowest recorded level in 1966. Romanian leaders interpreted the decreasing number of births to be a result of the 1957 decree that legalized abortion.[citation needed]

To counter this sharp decline in the birth rate, the Communist Party decided that the country's population should be increased from 20 million to 30 million inhabitants. In October 1966,[1][2] Decree 770 was personally sanctioned by Ceaușescu. Abortion and contraception[citation needed] were declared illegal, except for:

  • women over 45 (later lowered to 40, then raised again to 45).
  • women who had already borne four children (later raised to five).
  • women whose life would be threatened by carrying to term, due to medical complications.
  • women who were pregnant through rape and/or incest.


To enforce the decree, society was strictly controlled. Contraceptives disappeared from the shelves and all women were forced to be monitored monthly by a gynecologist.[3]: 6  Any detected pregnancies were followed until birth. Secret police kept a close eye on hospital procedures.

Sex education was refocused primarily on the benefits of motherhood, including the ostensible satisfaction of being a heroic mother who gives her homeland many children.

The direct consequence of the decree was a huge baby boom. Between 1966 and 1967 the number of births almost doubled, and the estimated number of children per woman (TFR) increased from 1.9 to 3.7. The generation born in 1967 and 1968 was the largest in Romanian history. Hastily, thousands of nursery schools were built. As the children got older, their needs were not properly met. There were cases where lectures were shortened to enable three school shifts. Classes with over 40 children per class were numerous.[3]: 9  When, after the revolution, lots of business closed or shrank their workforce, the latest hires were fired preferentially.[3]: 10 

The decree was abolished on 26 December 1989,[4] days after the Romanian Revolution.

Circumvention and mortality[edit]

In the 1970s, birth rates declined again. Economic pressure on families remained, and people began to seek ways to circumvent the decree. Wealthier women were able to obtain contraceptives illegally, or bribed doctors to give diagnoses which made abortion possible. Especially among the less educated and poorer women there were many unwanted pregnancies. These women could only utilize primitive methods of abortion, which led to infection, sterility or even their own death. The mortality among pregnant women became the highest of Europe during the reign of Ceaușescu. While the childbed mortality rate kept declining over the years in neighboring countries, in Romania it increased to more than ten times that of its neighbors.[3]: 8 

Many children born in this period became malnourished, were severely physically disabled, or ended up in care under grievous conditions, which led to a rise in child mortality.

Romanian orphans[edit]

A consequence of Ceaușescu's natalist policy is that large numbers of children ended up living in orphanages, because their parents could not cope with looking after them. The vast majority of children who lived in the state-run orphanages were not actually orphans, like the name implies, but simply children whose parents could not afford to look after them.[5]

Romanian revolution[edit]

In their book Freakonomics, authors Steven Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner make the argument that children who are born after their mothers are refused an abortion are much more likely to commit crimes or refuse to recognize authority when they reach adulthood. They further argue that the Decreței are exactly the same people who spearheaded the effort to violently overthrow Ceaușescu's regime in 1989. In that year, the oldest decreței would have been 22 years old, in the general age range of most revolutionaries. Levitt and Dubner note that Romania was the only east-European communist country with strict anti-abortion and anti-contraception laws at the time, and also the only country whose ruler was violently overthrown and killed at the end of the Cold War. Most other such countries experienced a tumultuous, but peaceful, transition. There were however[original research?] other aspects of totalitarian rule that would promote violent reaction instead of peaceful transition, including a lack of associational life and legal gatherings, a more extensive system of informants and special police than any state other than East Germany, and a cult of personality[6] built up around the supreme leader. The actual violence of the revolution can be attributed to divisions among the ruling and military/secret police and the vacuum of power that resulted. Revolutions are often observed to come in waves, and it is believed by some authors that Romania would have experienced violent revolution no matter its demographic situation.[7]

Abortion after 1990[edit]

Although in the early 1990s, shortly after abortion was legalized, the abortion rate was very high, it has gradually decreased, as more couples started using contraception, and the economy also started to improve after the instability of the transition. Abortion statistics, according to the National Institute of Statistics for data between 1990 and 2010[8] and according to Eurostat for data between 2011 and 2018.[9][10]

Year Abortions Per 1,000 women Per 1,000 live-births
1990 899,654 177.6 3,158.4
1991 866,934 153.8 3,156.6
1992 691,863 124.2 2,663.0
1993 585,761 104.0 2,348.4
1994 530,191 93.2 2,153.5
1995 502,840 87.5 2,129.5
1996 455,340 78.6 1,971.9
1997 346,468 59.5 1,465.6
1998 270,930 46.5 1,144.0
1999 259,266 44.6 1,107.5
2000 257,267 44.3 1,099.5
2001 253,426 43.6 1,153.3
2002 246,714 44.0 1,174.9
2003 223,914 39.9 1,056.5
2004 189,683 33.8 879.5
2005 162,087 29.0 735.1
2006 149,598 27.0 683.5
2007 136,647 24.8 638.1
2008 127,410 23.5 578.3
2009 115,457 21.3 520.9
2010 101,271 18.8 478.9
2011 103,383
2012 88,135
2013 86.432 14.9 458.3
2014 78,371 13.6 394.3
2015 70,885 12.4 350.9
2016 63,518 11.3 317.6
2017 56,238 10.1 278.2
2018 52,318

In film[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "DECRET Nr. 770 din 1 octombrie 1966". Romanian Justice Ministry. Retrieved 2022-07-11.
  2. ^ "Decretul 770/1966 - Legislatie gratuita". Retrieved 19 July 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d Manuela Lataianu (2002), The 1966 law concerning prohibition of abortion in Romania and its consequences: The fate of one generation (PDF), S2CID 51754999, Wikidata Q108740476
  4. ^ Consiliul Frontului Salvarii Nationale (26 December 1989). "Decretul-lege 1/1989". (in Romanian). Retrieved 30 September 2021.
  5. ^ "BBC NEWS - Europe - What happened to Romania's orphans?". 8 July 2005. Retrieved 19 July 2017.
  6. ^ Gilberg, Trond. Nationalism and Communism in Romania: The Rise and Fall of Ceausescu's Personal Dictatorship Westview Press, 1990
  7. ^ Katz, Mark. Revolutions and Revolutionary Waves. St Martin's Press, 1999, p. xi, 2–3
  8. ^ [1][permanent dead link]
  9. ^ "Legally induced abortions by mother's age". Archived from the original on 2012-11-11. Retrieved 24 June 2020.
  10. ^ "Abortion indicators". Archived from the original on 2020-06-27. Retrieved 24 June 2020.


This article, or a previous version, was translated from the article "Decreet 770" on the Dutch Wikipedia. This Dutch article used the following sources:

  • Children of the decree (Das Experiment 770: Gebären auf Befehl), German movie from 2004 by Florin Iepan
  • "The 1966 law concerning prohibition of abortion in Romania and its consequences - the fate of one generation", Manuela Lataianu, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw

External links[edit]