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

UN Watchdog Urges Israel to Probe Possible Gaza War Crimes

More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in a 51-day war in Gaza, along with 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel More

New Kenyan 'Thin SIMs' Poised to Transform African Mobile Money

Equity's new technology is approved in African nation for one-year trial, though industry leader Safaricom says thin SIMs could lead to data theft and fraud More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power 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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid