Anti-Abortion Law Sparks Protests in Turkey
Thousands of protesters gathered in Istanbul Sunday to protest plans by Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan to limit currently legal abortion and cesarean section access in the country. Last weekend Erdogan claimed abortion and cesarean sections were a plot to hurt Turkey’s economic growth because, as he put it, abortions are “murder” and cesarean sections “limit women to only two children.” In the past Erdogan has been a proponent of women having at least three children. The Prime Minister’s party, the AKP, is currently drafting new limits on the procedures, while the Health Minister is developing plans to penalize hospitals if they offer elective c-sections.
In addition to street protests, an online protest campaign has spread via an independent news portal in which contributors submit photos with statements of their personal support for abortion access. The motto of the campaign is “My decision, my body.”
Human Rights Watch released a statement calling on Turkey to not limit access to the procedures, saying “Decades of access to legal abortion in Turkey are at risk.” Abortion has been legal in Turkey since 1983.
Turkish author Elif Safak echoed this opposition in an opinion piece in the Hurriyet Daily News, adding that the most vulnerable women will be the ones who will suffer the most under new restrictions. Some women, however, support the Prime Minister, like Family and Social Policies Minister Fatma Şahin who declared her support for the “right to life” and pointed to long term health risks associated with cesarean sections.