A piece about abortion
Hürriyet photoIt is not easy to write about abortion. There are such topics as this that are difficult to discuss publicly in Turkey. Especially for us, women. But there are also topics that demand our discussion and demand that we express ourselves forcefully. It is unlikely that we could keep quiet.
We should share our opinion with a loud voice, sincerely, calmly and by listening to our conscience. I am writing this piece with the awareness that there are hundreds, thousands and millions of women who cannot talk about this subject easily. And I want to make just one statement: Don’t make abortion impossible.
If you ban it, women will suffer the most. Moreover, it will not be the well-off ones, or those who are protected by their families or their wealth. It would be others… It would be those women who already suffer the most in life, who stand up against the most complex obstacles, who strive alone most of the time and who are battered… Our vulnerable sisters and young girls will be the ones who will experience the greatest darkness. They would not be able to explain their issues to anybody.
Don’t ban abortion. Because…
When a man considers the topic of abortion just once, a woman has already thought it over five times, 10 times. She will not be able to talk about it, that’s a fact, but she thinks a lot about it. What is in question is a soul more divine than her own soul. Each baby is a gift of the universe.
A woman would not, out of the blue, just because she wants it or just because the wind of life blows in that direction that day, go and attempt to have an abortion. No woman takes this matter lightly, she cannot. It is a portion of her body, her soul, her future, a part of her most embedded dreams that she is giving away; is it possible for her to take that process lightly?
For women, the topic of abortion is not a public argument or a discussion point; it is an absolutely private and deep matter, as well as an extremely crucial one. It is an issue of life and death. After all, women do not consider having an abortion very easily anyway.
Despite all this, if a woman, indeed within legal boundaries, still opts for abortion, FOR SURE, but for sure, there is a grave and serious reason for it, one she is unable to overcome. In our country, unfortunately, incest, rape, violence against woman and marital despotism occur in worrying proportions. These are our bleeding wounds.
Still, in many places in Turkey, the guy who has caused the rumor washes his hands and walks away. The woman is excluded due to the slightest stain; she is stigmatized. And at the end, she either commits suicide or suffers for a lifetime, or she is killed by her closest kin under the guise of an honor killing.
In a country where all of these things occur, in a culture where it is always but always the women who pays the price, to prohibit abortion does not mean eliminating the action of abortion entirely. Just the opposite, it means pushing abortion underground.
In that case, women who have the financial means would travel abroad, have their abortion there and come back. Our underprivileged women and young girls who do not have any money or support would start visiting places that are unlicensed, unhygienic and illegal.
Women would risk their lives and health. To ban abortion would mean drawing our women away from access to doctors and having them fall into the trap of butchers and dealers.
Please, let us not forget that in our country restrictions on abortion are defined by law. Medical control can be tightened so as to prevent violations of these restrictions. But to ban abortion entirely, which is already restricted and only practiced in the first weeks, or to make it almost impossible, is going to another extreme; and from extremes, only other extremes emerge.
Of course every soul has a right to live. Every drop of the universe is undoubtedly valuable. However, revoking the right to abortion means killing women little by little. Let’s not claim other lives in order to spare one life.
Elif Şafak is a novelist and a columnist for daily Habertürk in which this piece appeared on May 31. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.