?ahin: Gov’t will look at what reason and science say about abortion


Fatma ?ahin (Photo: AA)
Following anti-abortion remarks by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an against abortion last week, Family and Social Policy Minister Fatma ?ahin has announced that the government will use reason and science in handling the issue of abortion. Speaking to the press on Wednesday, Minister ?ahin supported comments made by Turkish Health Minister Recep Akda?, saying that because abortion is seen as if it were a family planning method by the public, the number of abortions has increased substantially in recent years.
?ahin noted that women’s awareness should be increased and they should be educated on the issue. She went on to say that the government will look at what reason and science say about the issue and handle it accordingly, further adding that Turkey should stop creating theories and speculations over such issues. “When we perform an abortion we take away a fetus’s right to life.
Just as women have some rights, these babies also have rights. We will do what common sense says or what the public expect. Everybody can relax,” ?ahin said.
On the same issue, Health Minister Akda? announced on Wednesday morning that the ministry plans to complete work on a draft bill on abortion next month and present it to the Cabinet.

The content of the bill is not clear, but there are reports that the government plans to decrease the length of time in which abortions can legally be performed from 10 weeks to four or five weeks into a pregnancy.

Speaking at the Anatolia News Agency (AA) Editorial Board show on Wednesday, Akda? said that the state is working on new legislation which is expected to place some restrictions on abortions and is set to be completed and presented to the Cabinet at the Cabinet meeting in June. Akda? further stated that his personal attitude towards the abortion issue is that in principle, he believes that no abortion should be performed unless it is a medical necessity.

Abortion discussions have dominated Turkey’s agenda since last weekend when Erdo?an sparked outrage among women’s groups, opposition lawmakers and media critics after he delivered two fiery speeches in which he attacked abortion and births by Caesarean section as “secret” plots designed to stall Turkey’s economic growth. He referred to abortion as “murder” and added that no one should have the right to approve abortions.

Addressing a conference in ?stanbul last week, Erdo?an said: “Whether you kill a baby in its mother’s stomach or you kill a baby after birth, there is no difference,” Erdo?an also noted that “every abortion is like an Uludere,” a reference to an incident in December of last year in which 34 civilians were killed by the Turkish military in an air strike near the Iraqi border in the Kurdish-dominated Southeast.

Akda?, who met with journalists on Tuesday evening, said following the meeting: “Abortion is not a method which should be used as a method of family planning. However; since 1983 [when abortion until the 10th week after conception became legal in Turkey] women in Turkey have seen abortion as a method of family planning, which it is not. Accessibility to methods of birth control and modern family planning methods have increased in recent years in Turkey, so abortion should be stopped to be used for family planning reasons.”

Akda? noted that apart from the scientific aspect there is also an ethical side to the issue. He added that women have the right to request an abortion and their requests for abortions cannot be ignored, but it should not be forgotten that fetuses have the right to life.

Regarding the high number of Caesarean sections in Turkey, Akda? said that Caesarean section rates are a long way above the World Health Organization’s (WHO) acceptable limit of 15 to 18 percent. Almost one in every two expectant mothers has their babies delivered with a Caesarean section. Stating that Caesarean sections can create some complications both for mothers and babies, Akda? added that Caesarean sections should only be used when it is a medical necessity and went on to say the ministry plans to take some new measures against the overuse of Caesarean section in delivering babies.

Erdo?an, who spoke at the opening ceremony of a new hospital in Pendik on Tuesday, said, “We are preparing a law on abortion and we will enact this law.” He did not elaborate on what changes to the law the draft bill would entail.

Erdo?an backed his remarks over abortions and Caesarean sections in his speech at the ceremony. In response to harsh criticism from some women rights activists who say that making abortions illegal would violate women’s rights over their own bodies, Erdo?an said that such criticism is nonsense and that the life of the fetus in its mother’s uterus should also be taken into consideration. Stating that the abortion is also harmful for women, Erdo?an repeated his remark that, “Whether you kill a baby in its mother’s stomach or you kill a baby after birth, there is no difference,” again in his speech.

The non-profit organization Hakl? Kad?n Platformu (A Platform for Women with Rights), which sent an open letter to Erdo?an, asked Erdo?an to stop using women’s bodies for political gain. The letter reads, “Your recent remarks are regarded as the state trying to have a say on women’s decisions about their bodies, which causes concern among women’s communities.”

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