Law to bring 3-year sentence for unnecessary abortions

Law to bring 3-year sentence for unnecessary abortions

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Law to bring 3-year sentence for unnecessary abortions

A group of women has recently gathered in front of the Health Ministry building in Ankara to protest a government plan to put restrictions on abortion. AFP photo

Women who undergo medically unnecessary abortions after the tenth week of pregnancy may be sentenced to one to three years in prison if a new bill passes, daily Hürriyet has reported. The current law requires women violating the time limitation to be sentenced to one year in prison and pay a fine.

The public uproar over the abortion debate has delayed the proposal, but Health Minister Recep Akdağ had previously presented the proposed bill to the Cabinet. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan suggested the presentation be turned into a draft, Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç said.

It had originally been indicated that the new regulation would be passed before Parliament left for its summer recess, but this was suspended until Parliament reconvenes due to the public reaction and the review of the draft it necessitated.

Free ‘morning-after’ pills
According to Akdağ’s presentation, the draft includes the following provisions: The proposal gives doctors and healthcare personnel the right to refuse to perform abortions. Doctors will also be obliged to provide lectures and services to convince parents not to abort. Efforts will be made to deter parents from having abortions, including a a 4-day waiting period to consider the decision. However, no alteration was suggested for the time limitation, which is a matter for discussion. The government wishes to take these measures in order to decreaseabortion rates and also plans to encourage births by introducing incentives such as increasing paid maternity leave to 6 months.

Healthcare personnel will be given the right to refuse to perform an abortion in cases where they are medically unnecessary. A High Board of Reproductive Health will be established in order to support reproductive health policies. “Morning-after” pills will be distributed free of charge.

Very sensitive tests will be used for the early detection of pregnancy at all state-run family health units.

10-week limit to be preserved
The 10-week limit will be preserved, because there is little chance that most women will detect pregnancy earlier. Consulting services will be provided for pregnant women or couples considering abortion upon demand. The time limit for pregnant women or couples to think over their decision will be two to four days, on condition that the 10-week limit is not exceeded.

The drugs used to perform medical abortions will be controlled, and a secure use of these drugs will be ensured. Only gynecologists will be able to carry out abortions. Teaching hospitals and health institutions will be authorized to perform medically required abortions beyond the 10-week limit. Guidelines will be laid out for determining when an abortion is medically necessary. The current population planning legislation will be abolished, to be replaced by a Reproductive Health Services Law. “Painless childbirth” services will be offered and expenses for it will be covered by the Social Security Institution (SGK). A reproductive health consulting hotline will be established.