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RIGHTS > Abortion sparks raging debate in Turkey

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Turkish Prime Minister’s recents comments condemning abortion and ceaserian birth spark debate among those who say abortion is a right within the boundaries of law and those who support Erdoğan’s words

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A group of 50 women gather outside of Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan’s office in İstanbul, protesting his comments on abortion. ‘The decision is up to us,’ wrote on one of the banners carried by women. DHA photo

A group of 50 women gather outside of Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan’s office in İstanbul, protesting his comments on abortion. ‘The decision is up to us,’ wrote on one of the banners carried by women. DHA photo

The Turkish prime minister’s remarks against abortion and caesarean births over the weekend have provoked a divisive debate, with Family and Social Policies Minister Fatma Şahin emerging to offer her vigorous support for Recep Tayyip Erdoğan yesterday.

“It is out of question for us to tamper with this right [to life] as the [governing] political will,” Şahin said, calling or the use of family planning methods to render it unnecessary to resort to abortion. “Caesarean [birth] is a surgical operation even if it [seems] painless. It bears risks in terms of the mother’s health,” she added.

Erdoğan said May 25 that he considered abortion to be “murder” while also speaking out against Caesarean births. In Turkey, abortion is legal during the first 10 weeks of pregnancy.

Opposition’s reactions
Certain opposition figures and other nongovernmental organizations have excoriated the prime minister for his comments.

“I am deeply disappointed by the prime minister’s comments... The prime minister ought to quit doing politics over women’s bodies. To put it in a nutshell, I say the prime minister ought to quit standing guard over women’s vaginas. The totalitarian regime has brought Turkey to the point of intervening in people’s private lives,” said Aylin Nazlıaka, an Ankara deputy from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP).

“The only European country that has banned abortion is Malta. The prime minister boasts that we have [become] the world’s 16th [or] 17th largest economy, but he also places Turkey in the same category as Malta on the other hand,” Nazlıaka said.

Uludere comparison
Erdoğan also compared abortion to last year’s botched air raid that claimed 34 lives in Uludere in southeastern Turkey.

“I am a prime minister who opposes Caesarean births, and I know all this is being done on purpose. I know these are steps taken to prevent this country’s population from growing further. I see abortion as murder, and I call upon those circles and members of the media who oppose my comments: You live and breathe Uludere. I say every abortion is an Uludere,” Erdoğan said.

Turkey needs a young and dynamic population that constitutes the basis of its economy, he said, adding that they were going to strive to increase the country’s population.

“Insofar as human rights are concerned, abortion constitutes a right within the boundaries of law, as it is a situation that concerns women. It has been scientifically examined, and the question of when [the fetus] constitutes a living being is a scientific matter. Giving birth to a child a woman cannot look after is far more harmful both psychologically and economically,” said lawyer Hale Akgün, from Istanbul Bar Association.

May/28/2012

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CEMRE TAN

5/31/2012 12:07:42 PM

spot on Mara! people like taking the moral high ground as they view it but noone takes up any responsibility and JD, in a country with such high rates of teenage pregnancy I find it ruthless to condemn women to unwanted pregnancies and children... most of these would-be mothers are children themselves who know nothing about birth control yet alone raising a child

mara mcglothin

5/29/2012 4:53:53 PM

Exactly! AMERICAN AMERICAN This issue should be private between a woman and her doctor and no one else should get a vote! If you don't want an abortion, then don't have one! Those of you who are against it: How many unwanted babies have you adopted lately? How many birth control seminars have you taught? Time to put up or shut up.

american american

5/29/2012 9:40:11 AM

slavery and abortion are completely different issues. if a slave owner dies, does the slave die as well? if a pregnant woman dies, a fetus' progess is terminated. it is not a separate life. that is a foolish analogy. at the same time, no one is arguing for abortion to be a form of birth control. rather, that it be there in a safe, clean environment in case it is needed. if the state can say that abortion is murder, what stops it from saying smoking is suicide/murder (second hand smoke)?

Richard Dickens

5/28/2012 10:19:32 PM

@JJ... A very nice anecdote. It is a bit rare, nowadays, to hear such news (finding screaming babies, which have been abandoned by their parents like a pet or a toy they don't want anymore, in a mosque) THANKS in large part to birth control, and, to some extent, abortion. But when there is an authority figure who wants you to have at least three children, it is a fabulous idea to go home, discard all the contraceptives you have at home, and start kissing your wife...

jd pomerantz

5/28/2012 9:52:31 PM

(American)2, you might as well say "if you don't want a slave, don't buy one" - we're talking right vs wrong, not personal preference. Dogan, you & Mr E are correct; then again, so is a broken clock twice a day. Cem, you confuse needs with wants; if you don't want a pregnancy, then plan ahead using the big head & take precautions rather than blaming the baby.

Cem Ian Hanley

5/28/2012 8:47:17 PM

There is no doubt that caesarian births must be reduced in Turkey and doctors should be reigned in on this topic, but spouting on about abortions being murder when they are to an extent a social necessity for some people is Erdoganism on speed. Almost as bad as his opinions on the massive sizes of famiy people should have regardless of their income when class sizes inj school sare already too high. Most can be decent citizens without being Erdoganites.

GERARD SELTZER

5/28/2012 5:48:03 PM

Sadly, Mr. Erdogan's hysterical personality causes him to utter sayings that make no logical sense.

JJ Ahf

5/28/2012 5:32:48 PM

Do Turks remember the times where every day a baby was found in a mosque?

american american

5/28/2012 4:19:31 PM

dogan, if you don't want an abortion, don't have one. you can't 'must' this scenario. many people do not consider a fetus a 'life'. on that note, if life is so important to you, please demonstrate against your government to allow kurds to have their own land, so can stop murdering each other. life must be more valuable than national unity, correct?

dogan kemal ileri

5/28/2012 2:49:38 PM

Yes Erdogan is head of the AKP party and the prime minister of Turkiye but we must not forget he is also an imam of Islam and as a devout Muslim he is merely echoing the beliefs of his religion.I am not remotely religious but agree with Erdogan about his views on abortion,which must only be administered in exceptional circumstances like rape etc.And another point to note is that the overriding majority of the electorate of Turkiye who support him totally agree with him.Erdogan,their spokesperson
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