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RIGHTS > State to take care of babies born out of rape

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In the wake of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s controversial statements on abortion Turkey’s Minister of Health said yesterday that the state will take care of babies born because of incidents of rape.

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The law on abortion should also contain measures to ensure increased awareness of and access to contraception methods, says Akdağ, adding that it will require supplementary arrangements to ensure that unwanted babies will be cared for by the state. AA photo

The law on abortion should also contain measures to ensure increased awareness of and access to contraception methods, says Akdağ, adding that it will require supplementary arrangements to ensure that unwanted babies will be cared for by the state. AA photo

A draft bill to restrict or ban abortion will be submitted to the Cabinet next month, Health Minister Recep Akdağ said yesterday, as civic groups accused the government of seeking to undermine women’s rights.

“I believe the law should prevent abortions as much as possible, except in cases when they are medically necessary. When making a decision, politicians will take into account both the scientific and moral aspects of the issue,” Akdağ told Anatolia news agency.

The legislative move came only days after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said abruptly over the weekend that abortion amounted to murder and was part of “a sly plan to wipe this nation off the global stage.” Abortion is currently legal in Turkey in the first 10 weeks of pregnancy. According to 2008 figures, 10 percent of pregnancies in the country were terminated through abortion.

Abortion should not be seen as a method of family planning, Akdağ said, adding that the prospective law on the issue should also contain measures to ensure increased awareness of and access to contraception methods.

Hinting at cases of rape, Akdağ said the law would require supplementary arrangements to ensure that unwanted babies will be cared for by the state. “People are asking about cases in which the mother has been through something bad. If necessary, the state will look after such babies. If we are to pass a law that will call for tougher restrictions on abortion, we definitely have to take some complementary measures,” he said.

A report will be first submitted to the Cabinet on the medical aspects of abortion, and the draft will be drawn up either by the Health Ministry or the Justice Ministry, Akdağ said.

Growing anger

The Rightful Women Platform, which brings together major advocacy groups, business associations and media outlets, has denounced the government’s move, saying it amounted to “a claim by the state on the female body.”

The statement urged the government to focus on measures to popularize contraceptive methods and to improve health services and the education of girls instead. “We wish they would also notice that at least five women are killed every day and take preventive measures. We refuse any discussion on the rights that we have won,” the statement said.

The Turkish Medical Association (TTB), meanwhile, warned that restricting abortion would only encourage illegal practices, push women to use primitive methods to abort and “dramatically increase” maternal mortality. Twenty-seven percent of Turkish women seeking abortions are already resorting to primitive abortion methods, TTB representatives told a press conference.

To restrict abortion to the first four weeks of pregnancy, as the government is reportedly planning, will effectively mean a ban, as that period usually represents the time before pregnancy is discovered, TTB Chairman Eriş Bilaloğlu said.

“Prime Minister Erdoğan’s worries that the population will decrease and the nation will be wiped off the face of the earth are baseless. Turkey’s population will reach 90 million in 2050 without any additional arrangements,” TTB Secretary-General Feride Tanık said.

May/31/2012

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