News / Europe

Turkish Women's Groups Gird for Abortion Rights Battle

Demonstrators shout slogans, march with placards to protest the government's plans on a new abortion law, Istanbul, June 17, 2012.
Demonstrators shout slogans, march with placards to protest the government's plans on a new abortion law, Istanbul, June 17, 2012.
Dorian Jones
Women rights groups demonstrated in Istanbul earlier this month in support of abortion rights, accusing state institutions of complying with a government campaign to systematically curtail the practice.
 
Now the protests are continuing across the country as activists claim the government is using back-door methods to ban abortions.
 
"Now we know that all of Turkey's clinics or hospitals which feel politically close to the government or prime minister are refusing abortions," said Pinar Ilkkaracan, co-founder Women for Women's Human Rights. "Another issue is [that] the legal period is 10 weeks. In many cases, even if the abortion was 12 weeks, many doctors were doing [conducting the procedure anyway]. Now we are hearing that doctors in private practice ... and the woman asking for the abortion are being criminalized."
 
According to current Turkish law, women can legally receive an abortion during the first ten weeks of pregnancy. Historically, instances of medical abortion that occurred after the 10-week limit often went unprosecuted. Now both patients and doctors are facing jail time for procedures performed after the legal limit.
 
Turkish authorities say they are merely increasing enforcement of existing abortion laws and regulations.
 
But group known as "Abortion is a Right, Choice Belongs to Women," which recently released a video to raise awareness about what they describe as a government-led attacked on Turkey's pro-choice community, the increased level of enforcement is political. Recent speeches by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, they say, indicate that proposed legislation could make it all but impossible for women to obtain one.
 
"We believe there will more limitations, legal limitations, for private hospitals where women have more freedom to have access to an abortion," said Turkish journalist and women's rights advocate Ayse Duzkan, who warned that even if the government doesn't ban abortion outright, proposed legislation could make it all but impossible for a woman to obtain one.
 
While ministers have previously promised that abortion will not be banned, a recent Erdogan speech reaffirming the president's commitment to protect Turkish families, Duzkan said, suggests otherwise.
 
Attempting to reverse a slowing birth rate after official figures showed the median age of its population has crept above 30 for the first time, officials in Ankara recently proposed government incentives such as free fertility treatment. Erdogan has blamed abortions as a factor for the country's falling birth rate.
 
According to the latest statistics, Turkey's birth rate has fallen with the average number of births per woman at 2.1, down from 4.33 in 1978.
 
"We see every attack against family as an attack against humanity," Erdogan said. "In no way we tolerate this. We want strong families with at least three children. This is the way to strengthen our families. We will succeed in this. We want a strong nation."
 
While government officials have said new abortion legislation is being considered, no details have been given.
 
For Ilkkaracan, who has worked on women's development projects in Turkey's rural southeast, self-induced abortions already pose a major problem that could get worse if tougher reforms are introduced.
 
"It was shocking to see how many cases of induced abortions there were," she said. "Women jumping from desks, women putting needles into their vaginas to get the baby out, bleedings. It's very clear that in every country, we know this by research, the more difficult, the more illegal you make the abortion, then it goes underground. So a lot of women will lose their lives."
 
Abortion was legalized in Turkey in 1983 because of the high numbers of deaths by back-street abortions. Women's right groups have warned that the government will face a tough battle over any attempts to further restrict its use.
 
In Turkey, married women are still required to obtain their husband's consent before receiving abortions.

You May Like

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month More

At 91, Marvel Creator Stan Lee Continues to Expand his Universe

Company's chief emeritus hopes to interest new generation of children in superheroes of all shapes and sizes by publishing content across multiple media platforms More

Photogallery New Drug Protects Against Virus in Ebola Family

Study by researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is first looking at drug's effectiveness after onset of symptoms More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebolai
X
George Putic
August 20, 2014 8:57 PM
While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls For Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid