Abortion sparks raging debate in Turkey

Abortion sparks raging debate in Turkey

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Abortion sparks raging debate in Turkey

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.