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Turkish PM denounces Caesarean births and abortion

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Auveen Woods
WVoN co-editor

Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced last week that he was against abortion and Caesarean births.

“I am a Prime Minister who is against Caesarean births. I consider abortion as murder.”

Mr Erdoğan added that: “Nobody should have the right to allow this. You either kill a baby in the mother’s womb or you kill it after birth. There’s no difference.”

His comments elicited immediate reaction with protests staged the next day outside his offices in Istanbul.

Family and Social Policies Minister Fatma Şahin defended the Prime Minister’s comments the next day citing World Health Organisation statistics, which she said advise a rate of 15-20 percent of Caesarean births compared to Turkey where one in every two women gets a Caesarean operation.

Mrs Şahin emphasised that the state had no place in dictating birth control methods but that prerequisites should be considered before an abortion is necessary.

“Abortion and ending pregnancy, which is what our prime minister called ‘murder,’ is ending the pregnancy after ignoring birth control methods,” Şahin said.

“If you destroy a life and have an abortion after you ignore birth control methods beforehand, then this is a violation of the right to live.”

Abortion was legalised in Turkey in 1983 up to the first 10 weeks in response to the growing number of deaths due to unsafe abortion procedures.

Abortion is available to all single women over 18 but if the women is married she needs the the consent of her husband.

Unsafe abortion remains one of the major causes of maternal deaths in Turkey for women of reproductive age.

The number of legal abortions performed in the country has been sharply restricted by the requirement that the procedure be carried out only by, or under the supervision of, a gynaecologist.

This is a factor that particularly affects rural women who may not be able to have an abortion within the first 10 weeks of pregnancy as local healthcare facilities are often without the necessary trained specialists.

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