Abortion: A product of authoritarian policies

Abortion: A product of authoritarian policies

I asked my friend David, who is a supporter of the British Labor Party and also a fan of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan: “Prime Minister Erdoğan, the one you like so much, wants to ban abortion, what do you think?”

David thought a little bit and answered: “This subject is up to the women to decide.”

Conservative Catholics have been continuing their insistence on a ban on abortion for centuries. In Islam though, we have examples of a more flexible approach.

The male language of the prime minister
Prime Minister Erdoğan is using more authoritarian language recently. Is it the influence of the fact that presidential elections are nearing, or do other reasons lie behind it? We can discuss this for weeks. However, this is what is important: the strain is truly increasing.

We are witnessing a process where “one man” is increasingly becoming more powerful and the “cult of the leader” has started overshadowing everything. It was the same in the past too, but this time we are facing a party which has been ruling alone for 10 years. The prime minister speaks. Sometimes, in his own words, “his tongue slips.” There is such a unipolar psychology in his party that officials of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) react in such a way that they have almost normalized the approval of a mistake deliberately.

The language of the Prime Minister is a typical male dominant language. However, abortion is an operation involving the female body. Nevertheless, abortion is a topic that male members of the Catholic Church and males in the world of politics do not refrain from passing judgment on.

Is he the prime minister of conservative men?
The prime minister might have different views on abortion stemming from his religious beliefs or ideological preferences. In our laws, abortion is restricted to certain periods. Besides, when you review the practice and the logic of the religion of Islam, we can see there is flexibility.

The prime minister is obliged to act according to the laws while he conducts his duties, not according to “religious belief.” While legislating, the essential guiding principle is not Islamic law; it is the universal rule of law and the constitutional system.

The prime minister (as he, himself, states from time to time) has to be the representative of a system that guarantees the rights not only of Muslims, but people from all faiths (and atheists).

A unifying stance is possible by keeping the same distance with different segments of the society.

In the prime minister’s recent speeches (and additionally in Interior Minister İris Naim Şahin’s), the harsh, “monist” and statist political language, which is becoming more concrete each day and which keeps climbing with increasingly astounding sentences, make it inevitable that “polarization” intensifies.

What kind of an outcome can be hoped from polarization? Is it that the escalated tension is expected to bring the support over 50 percent? Is it realistic that the masses, who have been supportive up until this day, will be thrilled by a tension that tends to climb to even further extremes? You can provide a rise in votes to a certain extent, maybe in the short and medium term, by “straining” different sections of society, the Kurds, women or different opposition circles. But this kind of politics does not yield serenity, peace and salvation.

It is apparent that Turkey needs a more peaceful, more pluralistic political culture.

The tendency to be authoritarian
The new tone that is emerging in the prime minister’s statements very clearly demonstrates an authoritarian tendency. Famous political scientist Hannah Arendt points out that if private life is removed or swallowed by social and economic processes, or if it is integrated into political life, we will fall prey to totalitarianism under modern circumstances.

According to Arendt, totalitarianism is a regime where there is no place for action and speech in the public arena, in other words where politics are wiped out, and at the same time, where private life is destroyed. (Fatmagül Berktay, Dünyayı Bugünde Sevmek)

Also another point: The program and the election declaration of AK Party are self-binding. There are no clauses on subjects such as abortion in there. A ruling party cannot produce new policies in one day on such an important matter. If it does, then it contradicts itself.

Oral Çalışlar is a columnist for daily Radikal, in which this piece was published on May 30. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.

ORAL ÇALIŞLAR - oral.calislar@radikal.com.tr