News / Middle East

Turkish Prime Minister Seeks Limits on Abortion

Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan  (file photo) (AP).Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (file photo) (AP).
x
Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan  (file photo) (AP).
Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (file photo) (AP).
Dorian Jones
ISTANBUL - Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has sparked a strong response from women's rights activists after calling for legislation to restrict women's access to the procedure. The future of abortion is now in question in Turkey.

Hundreds of women protesters demonstrated outside the Istanbul office of Prime Minister Erdogan. The protest followed his strong attack on abortion at a congress of his party in a football stadium in Istanbul Sunday.  

He says no one should have the right to authorize abortion. It makes no difference whether you kill a baby when it is still in its mother's womb, or after it is born. We have to act together against this.

Abortion has been legal in Turkey for up to 10 weeks after conception, with emergency abortions allowed for medical reasons after that.  Married women require their husband's permission unless the pregnancy poses an immediate danger to the life of the mother.

Mr. Erdogan proposed outlawing all abortions that are not medically necessary, and limiting medically necessary abortions to the first few weeks after conception.

He also called for limits on Caesarean births, saying they were "nothing more than a procedure to restrict and square a nation's population" because, he said, women who give birth that way generally cannot have more than one more child.

Pinar Ilkkaracan of Turkey's Women's for Women's Human Rights warns the right to an abortion is now under threat.

"They are talking about changing the laws so that it can been done up to four weeks and only when there is a medical problem," said Ilkkaracan. "But these four weeks is laughable. A lot of women will not understand they are pregnant in the first four weeks. We know very well it will go underground, then it cannot be monitored. If it's illegal, then it will be done under very unsafe conditions and many thousands of women will be dying from unsafe abortions every year."
The current abortion regulation was introduced in 1983 by Turkey's military rulers in response to the numbers of deaths by illegal abortions.  From  2009 to 2011, the numbers of abortions have increased from 60,000 to 70,000.

In central Istanbul, there is concern among women over the prime minister's attack.

"...He must leave it to the women or medical people," said a woman. "It's not the prime minister's job. He just wants to change the society."

This woman, dressed in traditional religious clothing, is undecided.

"Yes, he is right," she said. "Abortion can in some cases be considered murder. But there are other cases when young women commit suicide because they cannot get an abortion."

Yasmin Congar, editor of the newspaper Taraf says the prime minister's stance on abortion is aimed at the Islamic grassroots supporters of his party. She worries about the overall consequences of his stance for the country.

"He is just using abortion as a political tool," said Congar. "He plans to get some votes out of that, because I think this is seen by him as a fault line between the pious Muslims and the more secular women in society. But I think he is creating new fault lines. He is creating a very, very dangerous ground and unhealthy practices. The number of abortions do not decrease in a country where it is forbidden. Only the numbers of deaths increase."  

Women's rights groups and the main parliamentary opposition have promised to fight any attempts to reform the abortion law. But with the prime minister enjoying a large majority in parliament, any reform is expected to pass easily - although critics warn the controversy is likely to only further polarize a deeply divided society.

You May Like

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid