Children of the Decree

Children of the Decree

2005, History  -   55 Comments
Ratings: 8.72/10 from 166 users.

Procreation is the social duty of all fertile women, was the political thinking during the 1960s and 1970s in Romania. In 1966, Ceaucescu issued Decree 770, in which he forbade abortion for all women unless they were over forty or were already taking care of four children.

All forms of contraception were totally banned. The New Romanian Man was born. By 1969, the country had a million babies more than the previous average. Thousands of kindergartens were built overnight. Children had to participate in sports and cultural activities.

Romanian society was rapidly changing. By using very interesting archival footage and excerpts from old fiction films and by interviewing famous personalities from that time – gynaecologists or mothers who were part of the new society - the director revives this period of tremendous oppression of personal freedom.

Many deaths were caused by the mere fact that women, including wives of secret Romanian agents, famous TV presenters and actresses, had to undergo illegal abortions. Many women were jailed for having them.

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55 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Starchild

    So many different horror stories under communist regimes, and so many, like this story of forced childbirth in communist Romania – and yes, it is essentially forced when a regime denies access to birth control; humans will have sex regardless, it's in our genes – are still so little known. Virtually everyone knows something about the monstrosities of the Nazis, but how many know the first thing about tyranny under the Ceaucescus? How many, even today, still buy into the Marxist ideology that produced regimes like this?

    1. Lulu

      Don’t blame Marx and don’t use the term ‘communism’ too easily. Right now in the good ole USA, hardly Marxist, abortion is a crime. You have simplified the use of language without clarification.

  2. Brian

    How is there not a single comment here talking about how shitty these women were (with the one exception of the woman who got pregnant in 11th grade)?

    No, all the comments here are a bunch of people whining about their right to kill a child just because they couldn't keep it in their pants.

    I can see how back alley abortions and the medical complications is a compelling argument, but even at the end of the documentary, they gave the numbers:

    10,000 women died as a result of illegal abortions

    2,000,000 children lived instead of being aborted

    Pretty stark difference there...

    Also, on a side note, people need to learn what the word "force" means. Nobody forced these women to have sex, so nobody forced them to have a baby. The only thing done here was the prevention of murder.

    Save the sob-story for someone else.

    1. Urban dweller

      Maybe you're not schooled in human psychology and physiology. That would explain your lack of understanding.

    2. Concreteblue

      How many unwanted children have you adopted?

    3. Aria

      You are an awful person! If they didn't have children, they were taxed and their already difficult lives made more difficult. Few people can be truly celibate. And abortion is not murder: you can't murder something (a foetus) which can't survive on it's own -- foetuses are actually more parasitic in nature. But even that debate aside, is it better to be alive and be neglected and unwanted and have your parents be totally indifferent to you? That degree of emotional, social and mental abuse is not some thing worth living with

    4. anca

      Brian i am from Romania, people were very poor during communism, they barely had anything to eat, the shelves were empty, there were rations on food, electricity, heat, contraception was illegal you **** ****! Try living one day under communism or even worse as a woman under communism! I hope you get to live like that you **** american, you should have been aborted, you ignorant fool! You americans and Churchill handed us to Stalin on a piece of paper. You wouldnt be talking **** if your wife or sister died because of a back alley abortion because she cant afford another child, to be paraded around the factory as a bad warning! Women arent your incubators, they choose what they do with their own bodies and i hope you dont ever get to reproduce!

    5. A

      Brian go back to your mom s basement, no woman will look at you anyway!

    6. Spencer

      You are a mistaken, and sad, little man.

      "No one forced these women to have sex" - And how would you know that? Do you know that 1 in 3 women will be sexually assaulted by the age of 18? Do you know that those offenses are overwhelmingly committed by FAMILY members of the girls? No, you don't.

      Men can impregnate multiple women every day. Women can only give birth once every nine months. The one's who can't "wrap it up" aren't women, they're men.

      Go crawl back to the hole you came from, troll.

    7. Lulu

      Dear Brian
      Where are the fathers in your simplistic analysis??

    8. Lulu

      Hi there… in essence it appears that the totalitarian government indeed forced them to have sex. Perhaps even their husbands or lovers as well.

  3. VEEEE

    If women everywhere would do what Romanian women did, and ABANDON the forced birth spawn that men saw fit to impose upon their bodies---men would start respecting reproductive freedom.
    Give the infant to the man and say: "HERE, YOU RAISE IT".
    See chaos ensue as men scramble to get their sister, grandma, girlfriend---ANY woman around, to do the dirty work for them.

  4. wellokhereitgoes

    this isn't about abortion to me. it's about resources. once you see the kids towards the end of the film without resources, once you see the other documentary about the train station kids, you see how possible hell is, and it's really not as dogmatic as you think. who is wrong to want to prevent that pain or help those victims? i'll always prefer the peaceful rural monastery lives, the gardens... i've worked (literally just, a menial job) with people who live out of their car, unable to smell their lack of time spent on just the body parts they want to keep together. when it gets to that point, if we look at our leaders, we might become jealous and therefore hateful. that's not what anyone wants to experience, but certainly, there are people like this film-maker and organizations across the globe (doctors without borders, habitat for humanity) who really want to help... even if it seems impossible, it's important to remember miracles have happened and will continue to happen. i look forward to the days when we don't have leaders, but we just have groups with good will, and that way, we don't see a loneliness or a responsibility, but an effort beyond that single experience in the womb, the holding cell mentalities.

  5. wellokhereitgoes

    we should definitely be studying our basic needs and desires, our drives and motivations, and even though this may mean sacrificing OURSELVES in the process, we also encourage our own self-love and responsibility which engenders the beliefs in the inevitable and therefore the educated prevention and preservation of how we pursue happiness. it's offering jobs, science, but it's also someone like myself saying, "i've done this and could never do it again." that's something more mature than emanating that feeling of never really having done anything and yet needing to always feel like that... a lot of kids are born without intention, forcing them to wander a little more, maybe seek a little too much. who doesn't need an eye on them in every which way????

  6. Chels

    Excellent documentary. I remember watching a doco about a particularly awful home for disabled children in Cighid but never looked into the history of Romania and how it could ever have happened. Scary to think that regime was only put to an end in the last 30 years.

    Brigitte; I assumed when Elena said she had raised him referred to how the two were dominant figure heads for the entire population and seen by all children as 'mother and father'. A last attempt to brainwash and tug at their heart strings.

    Just sad the most heinous result of this documentary are the amount of males in this comment section loudly voicing what women should do with their bodies. How any man can feel so indignant to write things such as 'many methods other than abortion, pick one', and comparing it to murder is beyond my own comprehension. Go back to your mothers womb, grow some ovaries, then tell me how a woman feels about something only they will have to consider and endure. I hope those writing such things never have a woman as a significant other.

  7. Brigitte

    Can anyone tell me who Laurentiu Stefanescu was (he formed part of the execution squad) and why Elena kept shouting she raised him like his own son as he tied her hands..? Might have missed something here... (1:02:20 onwards) Thanks!

  8. nadianoor

    This film is surprisingly dark in a foundationally personal way, forcing deep thought about humanity, power and the two coalescing. 'A must'. Simply fascinating.

  9. adilrye

    This was such an intense documentary...I expected it to be interesting, but there's some stuff in here that's pretty disturbing. The dark side of social engineering and a reminder behind the human cost of things like this.
    Growing up, aware that you may have been born because the state said you had to be must be so weird. On some level, I guess you'd feel like Ceaucaescu was kind of like a father in a sense...and also, I'd constantly be wondering how my parents really thought of me before they knew who I was.

  10. Rohypgnosis

    Not relevant to the video, but:

    I just had to point out that those posters who appear to be Romanian are often drafting excellently spelled and constructed contributions. This is in stark contrast to many of the (assumed) US/UK conributors.. If this isn't worthy of note, and an example of the free-fall declne in educatiion standards in the US/UK, then I do not know what is!

    It's no coincidence that as education standards decline, (invariably, in the USUK through the insipd increaing influence of religion)...the anti-abortion rhetoric increases in visibility. What on Earth is wrong with abortion?.

    1. adilrye

      No, not really. It's your opinion about what comments you like and which ones you don't and clearly you like the Romanian comments more.
      Has nothing to do with "declining educational standards."

    2. lechaise

      The influence of the church in the UK has been declining for decades, say what you wish about people's literacy skills but please don't put the UK and the US in the same pot when it comes to religion.

  11. chokoboy5578

    People tend to think things this happen only in dictatorships but what people don't know is that America has (and still does) use methods of population control in this case with the ceausescu regime it was disallowing abortion for population increase but in America the practice was eugenics it may be hard to believe (not for me) for most people but eugenics basically is the science of keeping blacks (and other colored races who have black genetics) from mixing with white people enfact planned parenthood is a eugenics program the founder margret Sanger was a eugenist and she wanted to keep black women from having children and even conducted forced sterilization to many black men and women even sader was the fact she even sterilized boys and girls white people try to claim "oh it's not about race" but the 1st p.p. was placed in Harlem and almost exclusively black neighborhood and other were also put in or near black neighborhoods Sanger even said " we don't want people to think we want to whip out the negro population" she even attended klan rallies yes as in ku klux klan so what America can't judge the genocide is still going on bill gates even admitted to being a eugenist though he didn't name any races that's what it's about wealthy white elites tend to support and fund these genocideal programs the Rothchilds rockefeller and the other owners of America support them so American can't Judge ceaus

    1. Jason McCombs

      Your facts on Margret Sanger are incorrect. In 1926, Sanger gave a lecture on birth control to the women's auxiliary of the Ku Klux Klan in Silver Lake, New Jersey. She described it as "one of the weirdest experiences I had in lecturing," and added that she had to use only "the most elementary terms, as though I were trying to make children understand." Sanger's talk was well received by the group, and as a result, "a dozen invitations to similar groups were proffered."

      Sanger reached out to all groups no matter thier political leanings. The Klan just happened to hear what they wanted and ran with it.

  12. henrymart81

    Abortions should be outlawed. With so many other methods to prevent unwanted pregnancy, pick one.

    1. NotaLady_aHuman

      So I see you have completely ignored the documentary and doubled down on your ridiculous, oppressive ideals. Bravo.

    2. A

      The one where you cut your dick and your balls, that s perfect!

  13. Matei Alexandru

    China is a communist country and they're not forbidding abortions but actually forcing mothers to abort their second child. This has nothing to do with communism ..... Ceausescu simply did all this for one reason - acquiring power and work force as a nation period.

    China ..... already has over a billion working people they don't need more working force so they're doing the opposite of what Ceausescu did. I am not a religious person and I don't think the bible should be read by anyone either, it's just bs ... but I'm still against abortions. It basically means to murder your own child. (MURDER)

  14. Matei Alexandru

    We live in a century of "Freedom" however we're more enslaved than we were ever before. Just because everyone can afford more these days simply because of the debt they make, that is no freedom ...

    In my honest opinion abortion is not "Evil" ... the right word is "wrong". Human beings have been constructed and evolved as intelligent beings but that doesn't give anyone the right to kill an unborn child.

    Like someone else said below, if promiscuous relationships (sex) would stop, we probably wouldn't have to deal with so many abortions.

    Under the communist regime everyone was supposed to keep their children and yes abortion was forbidden.


    Ceausescu needed a higher population, a stronger working force, a stronger army, a country that was literally evolving at that time. Everyone afford a decent house, a decent car and everyone afforded to raise even 3 or 5 kids. Nowadays things have changed for the worse in Romania. You can barely make it financially on your own, let alone having 5 kids.

    1. Soarecu Laurelu

      ..Yeah...except you know, the whole rationing food, no meat or barely, standing in line for milk, not actually owning anything since it all belonged to the state. Or how about not being part of the "right" kind of family line? You can say all you want, but it's easy to forget all the bad things after 24 years. And people afforded 3-5 kids? Why is it then, that almost all my classmates were single kids, not one of them had a sister except me.

    2. Matei Alexandru

      My mother has 2 brothers and a sister and my dad came from a family of 12 children.

      Now if you can do the math, try raising 12 kids in these hash days.

      Most of your school mates were single kids probably because most families after the 1980's (not sure about your age) have chosen to raise one or two kids at most. That doesn't mean they didn't afford to raise more children in my opinion. Nowadays, it's hard - near to impossible to raise a single child, it's impossible for the youth to even make a living - buy a house or a car which can only be done by going deep down the drain in dept but still most can't even get the credit. With an average salary of $420 is sort of impossible to do anything but SURVIVE.

    3. Soarecu Laurelu

      None of my parents have brothers or sisters, in fact the only member of my close family who does have siblings is my gran, and this was pre-ww2. Yeah it's not easy to start out in life, but to be honest i don't think it should be easy. Thats how you learn to succeed, by working hard, by getting an education (not necessarily speaking of our education system) and making something of yourself. Yes 420$ is very little compared to the prices on the market, and the standard outside, but the kicker is that it does not have to stay at that level. You have the option of looking for better jobs and better pay. And getting a credit does not automatically pull you down the drain, if you are smart about it and don't bite off more than you can chew. Point i'm trying to make is that while there are bumps in the road, in the long run we are better off than how we were 24 years ago. And you can't deny that at the very least the last 10 years of the "golden" age were horribly bad. You can choose to believe otherwise, it's your right, but in my case at least, i'm happy i can say what i think, choose what i do, where i work and for how much. That i can come and go as i chose, and not have to explain why.

  15. Ahmber Burgess

    If you have been hunting for a highly captivating history documentary, this will hit the spot for anyone born before the fall of the the Berlin wall, or basically 1989. I had never even heard of the 1989 Romanian uprising or the fact that it was a Communist country run by a very idealistic dictator-whose very love for his country causes his own execution by his "children's" hands. It is not just about the injustice that the women of the country suffered under the 1966 Decree, it is a close study of how all the aspects of the country's society were affected by one man's ideals. This film needs to be seen just as much as those KONY 2012 films were. This is the sort of history that is not talked about in our country for some odd reason. Seriously, it may disturb you as well as inform and intrigue you...but there are issues and events, as well as incredible interviews, that will speak to every individual in their own way.

    Please re-post my review and the film link if you watch it and agree that this historical event should not be something that we should choose to be ignorant about. Thank you.

  16. Goglin

    There is a difference between birth control and abortion. Abortion is not birth control. Although I don't believe in abortion, I do believe in birth control. I don't think abortion was the more important right of women. Birth control was. If they had of had access to birth control. Abortion would not have gotten out of control like it did with illegal practitioners.

    1. Soarecu Laurelu

      this is one opinion i can respect, even if i don't fully agree with it. :)

  17. Florin

    I have always seen parallels between the "pro natality" measures taken in the past and the idiotic bible belt campaigns that wish to remove this freedom to choose whether you procreate or not. I have heard a lot of stories about the hush-hush situations that people found themselves in, and about the, sometimes, tragic turn of events that proceeded the rudimentary abortion techniques. I live in Romania and I can tell you that if you ask, you can hear a lot of these testimonies from those past generations that had to endure those harsh times and ideologies.

    1. Betterthanyou

      You seriously have no idea what you're talking about. Maybe if people stopped f--king everyone that walks in front of them we wouldn't have to kill the outcome of their actions. Abortion is wrong period. You "modern" intellectuals are so ignorant and so happy to hop on the bandwagon of "scientific consensus". Do some research. Abortion came out of eugenics and like most eugenics it is evil in its nature.

    2. over the edge

      could you please provide some evidence fo " Abortion came out of eugenics"? as any information i found does not support that claim.

    3. Soarecu Laurelu

      First off, this also applied to married women with the fathers consent, they also went to abort an unplanned child, because an unplanned child meant trouble on a lot of levels, not to mention feeding Ceausescu more kids to his communist machine. Second, since you brought up eugenics, THIS measure here was because of eugenics, since women of minorities were allowed to have an abortion, and the others were forced to have child after child after child, even if they had no means to care for them (see it works both ways), or have you missed the first phrase of this fact..did you even watch this?? At all???

    4. Jack1952

      Abortion is about the freedom of choice. No western culture forces abortion. A woman has their own personal right to choose to be a mother. Eugenics has nothing to do with choice.

      "Betterthanyou"? I see a problem there. Are you better than me? I can accept that, I guess, but I think I would avoid you if I knew you. Most pompous people I know are also quite lonely.

    5. Matei Alexandru

      Abortion is just about murder. It's not a freedom of choice. Ask any mother you want that will be honest with you - How she felt after aborting her child?

      Just because the humam race has evolved technologically that doesn't give anyone the right to choose whether to become a mother or a father by aborting so many children that could have been born and contributed to our society.

    6. Jack1952

      You suggest only the honest ones will tell you they feel regret after an abortion and those who are glad they had the option of abortion are not being honest. A rather self serving argument. You can't call those who disagree with you dishonest.

    7. WiseGapist

      Your statements are proof that anti-abortionists have nothing close to rational argument, everything hinges on some blind/short sighted sense of your own stuck-up morality, a view you wish to force on others to reduce their rights.

      'aborting so many children that could have been born and contributed to our society'

      Every child born does not contribute effectively to our society, some are a detriment. Those most likely to be a negative addition have broken childhoods, unwanted by their parents for any number of reasons, including not being able to afford to comfortably raise the child. You would prefer to see those precious 'potential lives' raised in abject poverty by parents that don't want them rather than stop that 'potential' person from existing at all. I suppose you disagree with contraception? Do you mourn the loss of every 'potential' human being? Every possible f*ck that didn't happen or where contraception was used? Billions of potential human beings, constantly not coming into existence like an unending slaughter, must be difficult for you to sleep at night with the weight of that ethical situation hanging over you... Or you could be rational and know that a potential human being doesn't hold the same position as an actually living one, and that even for the living, life can be such that existence can be worse than non-existence.

    8. Florin

      Sorry to burst your bubble, but calling a fetus a child is not a correct statement. You can call it a potential child - would you call a sperm cell a child? The truth is that if you let the embryo develop to the point where it can be said that it has cognitive functions ( feels pain, reacts to stimuli) and thus, is a "baby", then I am vehemently against abortion that is not purely for survival reasons. But the legal system has a limit on the maximum time an abortion can be had. Does it not?

    9. hernandayoleary

      Well of course if one believes life starts at conception is it freedom of choice to kill your child. Is it freedom of choice for a woman to kill a 1 day old baby?

      A woman does have control of her reproductive system, its called her legs, keep them shut and keep that chastity belt firm.

    10. honeybun2500

      I find it funny that the responsibility of conception only falls on the woman! I don't see people like you telling men to be more responsable. Men that adopt the condom as their right arm or in your terms use a chastity belt are the men that most unlikely to have to deal with their "mistakes" and then abandon their baby's mother to deal with the consequences alone. BTW, who the hell are you to tell me what I should with my vagina, my ovaries and my uterus? I am not telling you to stop having sex because your sex life is yours.

    11. Florin

      I don't know what your problem is, but do you really think you know better than the people that find themselves in one of the innumerable situations where a child would be unwanted? Although a better sexual education (and a better education in general) would be the best alternative, you can't impose unto others what you personally think is best. Abortion is a choice, not an obligation - what you might call a freedom - whilst banning abortion would obligate women to give birth even in the most unfortunate scenarios.

    12. bringmeredwine

      So nice to read your comment, because you're an actual Romanian. Thank you so much for sharing what you have learned about this era..
      This doc is very educational and taught me a lot about what was going on in your country during Ceaucescu's reign.
      These women had NO access to any birth control!
      .My heart goes out to all the unfortunate women and the children who had to suffer needlessly because of a crazy dictator and his minions.
      I really recommend people watch this doc before they start bashing Romanian women for having abortions.
      Ending their pregnancies was far kinder than giving their unwanted babies to the state.
      I could have sworn I heard during the last US Presidential election, that Mitt Romney wanted to outlaw birth control!!!!!
      I couldn't believe my ears.
      If this was true, imagine the ensuing misery?

    13. Urban dweller

      Everyone is so busy looking at their shiny arguments they don't see the real issue - central bankers controlling our lives through conflict: staged wars, staged poverty, staged racism, staged sexism, staged conflicts over abortion issues, etc. And until we can listen and ask questions without pointing fingers another life will be aborted AND another life saved to live a life of dredge and economic slavery. How many people do you think say, " I wish I /you were never born. " ? Look at the number of suicides increasing over the years.

    14. a

      Betterthanyou In fact eugenics is a good thing, there is too much suffering in the world because of hereditary diseases, why not stop that!? I can t wait for the day gene editing becomes available to the masses. It s better to abort a defect fetus which will result in a human being who will suffer its entire life because of some diseases, handicap, life is hard enough when you re healthy, its better to end it all while you re a cluster of cells that doesnt feel pain and has no self awareness!

    15. A

      All these anti abortionists in here ranting about the lives of fetuses yet neither of them adopt, they only care about the baby until it comes out of its mother s private parts, after that, f*ck that, we did our job, he s born, he s on his own!

  18. Wayne Siemund

    I see possible parallels today with the politicians trying to outlaw abortion. This documentary would provide a good educaton on the consequences of trying to control the lives of the people.

  19. SpawnFrag

    It's OK, don't worry he won't do it again, We shot him(Ceau?escu) and his wife in the head.

  20. disqus_0qRcR2XYov

    I only wish for a plague to wipe out the filthy human race.

    1. Carl Franklin Hendershot

      Starting with you..

    2. Matei Alexandru

      And obviously that is one sick and probably a psychopath's point of view. If you hate yourself, that doesn't mean you have to hate others. Enlighten yourself, find freedom and you'll see a different world.