Turkish women took to the streets on Sunday to march against government plans to heavily restrict, or even entirely scrap, abortion access.
The protesters who convened Sunday marched to Istanbul’s busy Taksim Square, carrying signs that read “AKP: Get your hands off my body,” “Murder is outlawing abortion,” and “Abortion is a right. Uludere is a massacre.”
“The prime minster is conservative. He does have Islamist sensibilities as well as his party, obviously, so he is trying to impose his understanding of faith and what Islam demands and so on to the rest of the population,” said Binnaz Toprak, an opposition party Parliamentarian attending Sunday’s march. “But at the same time I also feel that this is a cover-up for the Uludere massacre.”
Abortion up until the 10th week of pregnancy was legalized in Turkey in 1983 and has rarely, if ever, inspired much public debate in the three decades since. Public support today also seems to remain high, with a poll commissioned by Turkish newspaper Haberturk indicating that 55.5% of Turks do not support a ban on abortion.
Last month Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan reportedly said in a party speech, “I see abortion as murder–I am asking you: what’s the difference between killing a baby inside a mother’s womb and killing a baby after birth?”
Erdogan also drew a false equivalency between abortion and the Uludere airstrike where on December 28, 2011, two Turkish jets, acting on information that PKK militants were crossing the border, killed 34 unarmed civilians. Erdogan said “each abortion is one Uludere.”
Erdogan has also made it known that he would like to restrict caesarean sections. He maintains caesarean sections are part of a “secret foreign plot” to stymie Turkey’s growth–he has yet to present evidence for this, however.
The government’s health minister, Recep Akdag, issued a statement soon after Erdogan’s party talk saying he would be submitting a proposal on this matter to lawmakers, which has sparked fears that the religious conservative led parliament is preparing to restrict, if not entirely block, access to pregnancy termination services.
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