EMRE DELİVELİ >Abortion of reason in policymaking

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RidleyScott’s Prometheus showed mejust how dangerous Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s recentwar against abortion and caesarean births are for humanity. 

Inthe movie, Swedish actress Noomi Rapace’s (of Millennium Trilogy fame)character uses an automated surgery table to extract an alien from her uterus. The economist with the eagle tattoothinks that the girl with thedragon tattoo is really lucky.

IfTurkey finally managed to exporthigh-tech products, to the extent that her spaceship Prometheus was manufacturedin Turkey, such a procedure would not be available on the ship. But then again,as Health Minister Recep Akdağ has remarked,the state would take care of unwanted babies, even aliens.

Thereare several important themes here. For one thing, it is useful to differentiatebetween caesareans and abortion. While I am no medical expert, it seemsthat the rate of caesareans, which may cause difficulty in subsequentpregnancies, is higher in Turkey than in developed countries.

Nowonder then that Erdoğan emphasized that caesareans and abortion are “covertplans to erase our nation from the world stage”.  And I wasn’t surprised when he hinted of a“Jewish hand” behind this sinister plot. After all, the Jewish lobby has been tryinghard to raise Turkish interest rates. I am now waiting for thepro-government dailies to“expose” the Jewish owners of the private hospitals that undertake most caesareans. 

Istabul think-tank Betam shows, in a recent reserachnote, that public support for abortion has waned in the last two decades, soyou may argue Erdoğanis playing to the masses. Besides, the war against abortion and caesareans isthe latest in astring of ultra-conservative policiesimplemented,or at least attempted,by the government. 

Lastbut not the least, banning abortion would lead women to illegal clinics. If youare wondering what sort of an experience that would be, I would recommend theRomanian movie 4 Months, 3 Weeksand 2 Days. According to the TurkishMedical Association (TTB), the legalization of abortion in 1983 causedwomen’s deaths during pregnancy to decrease by tenfold. 

Butthe most tragic part of all this debate is that no one other than the TTB hastried to support their arguments with data. For example, I would have expected oneof the country’s economists to use the current debate as an opportunity toreplicate the famousDonohue-Levitt paper, where the authors “offer evidence that legalizedabortion in the United States has contributed significantly to recent crimereductions”. 

Theidea is that unwanted children are more likely to be left unattended andconsequently resort to crime. Donohue and Levitt show that “crime began to fallroughly 18 years after abortion legalization”. Looking at18 years after 1983 isproblematic in Turkey because it corresponds to the 2001 crisis, when you’dexpect crime rates to increase. So I thought I could analyze the difference innumber of crimes committed by those born right before and after abortion waslegalized. 

Butthe Turkish Statistical Institute’s crime statisticswere down on Friday. As we Turks say, fish rots from the head down. Or shitrolls downhill, as Shakespeare would say.


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