Imam blesses abortion ban

Imam blesses abortion ban

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Imam blesses abortion ban

Women cannot kill babies for ‘arbitrary reasons,’ says top religious figure Görmez. AA photo

Turkey’s chief cleric has defended the government’s attempt to ban or restrict abortions, saying that the fetus’ right to life could not be ended by the parents. In his first remarks since the country-wide debate over abortion erupted, the head of the Directorate of Religious Affairs Mehmet Görmez said it was a complicated issue that had religious, social, moral, legal and scientific dimensions.

“As neither mother nor father has property rights over the baby, they also have no authority to end the baby’s life. This is why a pregnant woman cannot say ‘The body is mine; I can use it however I want. I can deliver a baby or get rid of it,’” he said at a meeting with provincial muftis in Sapanca, in northwestern Anatolia.

“Because the mother does not have possession rights over the baby, she cannot leave or kill the baby for arbitrary reasons. She is entrusted with taking care of it, protecting it and keeping it alive,” he said.
Görmez’s remarks on abortion differ from his predecessor who served in the same position in 1983 and gave abortion within the first 10 weeks of pregnancy a green light.

According to Görmez, not only Muslim clerics, but many clerics and officiates from the world’s divine religions disapprove of abortion based on their idea that the fetus is considered to be a biological human being directly after fertilization. “The problem is whether we can face up to scientific realities. The European Court of Human Rights continues to suspend cases on this issue and avoids facing scientific realities, still hiding behind uncertainty as to when the life [of a fetus] actually begins,” he said.

Görmez also underlined that Islam differed from Catholicism and Christianity in siding with the mother if a decision has to be made between the mother and the fetus. “It would be unfair to think of abortion as a matter concerning only women. It is men who have mainly been responsible for women’s sufferings throughout history.”

Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ defended Görmez’s right to make a statement on the issue, saying it was his job to enlighten society on issues concerning religious practices. “We are a democratic, secular country with a strong rule of law. So, what would a secular state do? It would not intervene in anybody’s faith and does not allow for others’ intervention either,” he said at the same event.

Arguing that abortion was no different from killing another person, Bozdağ said he considered abortion to be the murder of a defenseless individual. “What will be included in the regulations on abortion? We’ll see it all together,” he said.