Patients have no right to demand C-sections, says Turkish Health Minister

Patients have no right to demand C-sections, says Turkish Health Minister

Turan Yılmaz ANKARA
Patients have no right to demand C-sections, says Turkish Health Minister

Doctors have been warned on high number of C-sections, says Müezzinoğlu.

Lamenting once again that the number of Caesarean sections performed in the country was way above average, Turkish Health Minister Mehmet Müezzinoğlu has warned patients that they do not have the right to chose when it comes to their birth plan.

“Demanding a natural birth is a natural right of the patient and this is the way it should be,” Müezzinoğlu told a group of reporters in Parliament on Dec. 19. However, he said it was the state's duty to remind them that demanding C-sections is not a natural right.

“It is the duty of the midwives and the doctors to prepare them for the birth. The patients cannot say ‘I want a C-section,' they do not have such a right."

The government in 2012 moved to regulate abortion and C-section births by making them far more difficult to obtain than before. The government argued that its policy was not an interference to people's bedrooms, but on the contrary was designed to encourage families to have more children to fulfill President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's target of at least three offspring per family. According to the government, the measure also aimed to prevent doctors from pushing women into unnecessary surgery with potentially serious consequences, although women’s right groups denounced an attempt to interfere with people's reproductive rights.

Doctors may face sanctions

“The doctors’ job is to fulfill their medical responsibilities, not to follow the patients’ demands. Doctors must give the medical services that the patients have right to, the C-section is not one of those rights,” Müezzinoğlu proclaimed.

He said the average rate of C-section births across the world was around 15-17 percent, whereas the number is almost 50 percent in Turkey. He also hinted that doctors who perform more C-sections than what is deemed admissible by the government may face sanctions. The ministry has started to send letters to the doctors who have high C-section rates, Müezzinoğlu said, adding that sanctions will be applied in the future to those who do not meet “certain criteria” in such operations.