AKP’s support for babies born of rape fuels uproar

AKP’s support for babies born of rape fuels uproar

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
AKP’s support for babies born of rape fuels uproar

Health Minister Recep Akdağ (C) has though a moment while giving answers to female reporters on the controversial issues of abortion and Cesarean sections. AA photo

Uproar over government plans to restrict or ban abortion intensified yesterday as senior members of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) voiced support for the delivery of unwanted babies conceived as a result of rape.

“Certainly, we will not abandon such children and the state will take care of them. But this not a final decision. There will be a public debate, and we will have discussions with experts and scientists,” Health Minister Recep Akdağ told reporters in the capital, Ankara.

Fending off criticism, Akdağ said his suggestion of state care for unwanted babies born as a result of rape was hypothetical and based on the assumption that the prospective law on the issue bans abortion in all cases except for situations of medical necessity.

AKP lawmaker Ayhan Sefer Üstün, the head of Parliament’s Human Rights Commission, upped the ante in supporting the minister, arguing in remarks to daily Akşam that “killing the baby in the mother’s womb is a greater crime than the deeds of the rapist.” He said abortion should also be banned in cases in which the unborn baby is determined to have a serious impairment.

Akdağ denied the government had made a decision to restrict abortion to the first four weeks of pregnancy – a move that critics say would amount to a virtual ban, as pregnancies are rarely detected within that period.

Planned restrictions
The minister defended the planned restrictions on abortion as a means to keep Turkey’s population young and avoid “the wrong path of Western countries” in grappling with the problem of an ageing population.

“Turkey should have a young population. We cannot follow the wrong path of Western countries. Many Western countries, where abortion is unconditionally free and where families have a certain lifestyle, are in serious trouble due to their aging populations,” he said.

The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) lashed out at the health minister, charging that his approach would embolden rapists.

“The minister has demonstrated that he regards women as second-class citizens. A mentality which reduces the existence of a woman to reproduction belongs to totalitarian and fascist movements,” CHP deputy chair Perihan Sarı said.

Oktay Vural of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) said he had his “hair stood on end over this mentality, which is able to see even rape as a means of reproduction.”

Meanwhile, Amnesty International yesterday said it is deeply concerned by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s announcement of forthcoming legislation on abortion.

“The legislation, if passed, would further restrict access to needed health care for women and girls in contravention of their human rights,” the organization’s press statement said. “Amnesty International calls on the Turkish government to ensure that women’s human rights are fully protected,” it added.