Top Turkish cleric backs PM, calls abortion ‘murder’

Top Turkish cleric backs PM, calls abortion ‘murder’
Top Turkish cleric backs PM, calls abortion ‘murder’

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The head of Turkey's Religious Affairs Directorate has weighed in on the country’s abortion debate, siding with the prime minister in describing terminated pregnancies as “murder” on the grounds that Islam considers the fetus to be a separate human being. 

"The fetus, as proved by scientific research, has a separate heart and is an individual biological entity," Mehmet Görmez said during a gathering of provincial muftis today. “It, therefore, has a right to life, which cannot be taken away by either parent."
No woman has the right to say, "This is my body, I will deliver a baby if I want to,” according to Görmez because the mother "is not the owner of the fetus but rather a vessel to keep it alive." 

"The right to life, from a legal point of view, is not a right which you can forego," Görmez said, adding that from a religious perspective, humans did not have a say over their own bodies and lives since they were not "given" to them but were rather "entrusted" to them by God.
Islam accepts the use of contraceptives to prevent unwanted pregnancies but abortion and intentional miscarriage should be considered murder, Görmez said. 
The directorate holds to its current view on abortion, which states that “abortion is wrong if done without a valid reason," Görmez said. 
"It has always been difficult to talk about abortion in the face of exceptional cases such as rape and grave illnesses," Görmez said. "I need to say that clerics, psychiatrists and physicians can jointly decide on a common solution in such cases."

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan touched off a storm of controversy on May 25 by likening abortion to murder and subsequently promising to enact legislation that would severely restrict the ability of women to legally terminate their pregnancies.