Abortion ban unacceptable, Council of Europe warns

Abortion ban unacceptable, Council of Europe warns

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Abortion ban unacceptable, Council of Europe warns

A group of women gathered in front of the Health Ministry yesterday, calling for Turkish PM Tayyip Erdoğan to stop the abortion ban legislation. A major crowd also protested the ban in Istanbul on June 3. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ

Turkey’s government must do everything to ensure there is no rollback on women’s rights in terms of abortion restrictions, the Council of Europe’s Equality and Non-Discrimination Committee has said.

“Welcoming the fact that Turkey has been the first country to ratify the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, the committee urged the Turkish authorities not to allow any setback on women’s rights, including in the area of sexual and reproductive health,” the committee said in a declaration June 4.

The committee, which issued its declaration following an initiative by Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Gülsün Bilgehan at its Paris meeting June 4, expressed its deep concern at Health Minister Recep Akdağ’s remarks, in which he said legislation outlawing abortion in all circumstances would be presented by the end of June.

Referring to an assembly resolution from 2008 on the access to safe and legal abortion in Europe, the declaration said: “A ban on abortions does not result in fewer abortions but only leads to clandestine abortions, therefore putting at risk the lives of the women’s concerned.”

The 2008 resolution also affirmed the right of all human beings – particularly women – to exercise freedom to control their own bodies, the declaration said. “The ultimate decision whether or not to have an abortion should be a matter for the woman concerned, who should have the means of exercising this right in an effective way.”

Meanwhile Turkey’s famous novelist Elif Şafak has said she is following the abortion discussion with concern and is worried that abortion will soon be banned.

“No women would have an abortion for no reason. It is not an issue women consider lightly or something they want to do. If a woman chooses to have abortion there is a reason. Leaving woman without any solution means leaving them under extreme difficulties,” Şafak said, adding that those who would be affected by a ban the most were women in economic difficulties.

US NGO head criticizes abortion

NEW YORK - Hürriyet Daily News

Ankara’s anti-abortion initiative has been excoriated by the head of the International Women’s Health Coalition, who noted in a recent New York Times article that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton should broach the issue when visits Turkey tomorrow.

“Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan needs a history lesson. We know from Chile and Romania, among others, that severely restricting abortion access does not increase births. It kills women, the very women Mr. Erdoğan says should have three children,” Adrienne Germain wrote in the letter.

“His call for restrictive legislation also fuels abortion opponents across the Islamic world, jeopardizing the health and lives of millions more women,” she said.

“Fortunately, a robust women’s health and rights movement in Turkey is pushing back. It deserves support from Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton when she visits on Thursday,” she added.