SHAFAQNA (Shia News Association) – Likening abortion to murder, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has sparked a heated controversy by criticizing a growing tendency in the country to terminate pregnancy, sparking the fury of feminists.
“Abortion is a crime against humanity,” Ayhan Sefer Üstün, the head of Parliament’s Human Rights Commission, told Anatolia news agency.
“Our society is pulling away from this delusion gradually
“It means depriving unborn babies of the right to life. It’s a delusion to consider that a baby’s life begins only after a certain period of pregnancy.”
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Speaking at a conference earlier this week, Erdogan likened abortion to “murder”, describing the practice as a conspiracy to curb Turkey’s economic growth.
Appealing to women not to use the right to terminate a pregnancy, Erdogan also criticized the high number of Caesarean deliveries in the country.
"You either kill a baby in the mother's womb or you kill it after birth. There's no difference."
He further fanned the flames when he told women's branches of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) that "Every abortion is an Uludere," referring to a botched attack on Kurds by Turkish warplanes in December that claimed 34 lives.
In Turkey, abortion is legal during the first 10 weeks of pregnancy, and Erdogan’s remarks have created a huge debate over the issue.
The latest figures show abortions on the rise throughout the country, from around 60,000 in 2009 to nearly 70,000 in 2011.
Supporting Erdogan’s views, Üstün said that abortion is a practice that “should be banned.”
He indicated that an abortion ban could be brought to the Turkish Parliament’s agenda in the upcoming days.
While Islam permits preventing pregnancy for valid reasons, it does not allow doing violence to it once it occurs.
Muslim jurists have agreed unanimously that after the fetus is completely formed and has been given a soul, abortion is haram.
It is also a crime, the commission of which is prohibited to the Muslims because it constitutes an offense against a complete, living human being.
But Erdogan’s opposition to abortion has invited the ire of women rights advocates.
“An issue which concerns only individuals has become an issue for politics,” Sezgin Tanrıkulu, who is a member of the Human Rights Commission, told the Hürriyet Daily News
“This is the Justice and Development Party’s attempt to change Turkey’s agenda.”
Tanrıkulu opines that Üstün’s comments against abortion are “unfortunate.”
The Turkish Medical Association (TTB) also denounced the government over the abortion debate.
“The oppression of women has come to the point of deciding how many children women would give birth to and how they would do it,” it said in a press release.
“Pushing women to have at least three children and taking away abortion rights from women is a way of locking women in their houses.”
Protesting Erdogan’s statements, around 300 activists took to the streets on Tuesday to voice anger at the premier's remarks, branding him a "woman's enemy."
"Caesarean births and abortion have legal footing in Turkey. The prime minister's attempt to change the country's agenda by attacking women is a grave mistake" said Canan Gullu, head of the Federation of Women's Associations.
"In such a party congress, the prime minister should have talked about women's problems including unemployment, domestic violence, or their inadequate standing in political life, instead of making politics over women's bodies," she said.
But Family and Social Policies Minister Fatma Sahin defended Erdogan’s stance, saying he was referring to unwanted pregnancies which could have been avoided by family planning methods.
"It is every family's most natural right to plan the number of children they want to have," Sahin told Agence France-Presse (AFP).
"It is out of the question for us... to interfere in this right."
Sahin also backed Erdogan's criticism of the high number of Caesarian births in Turkey, where they now represented half of all deliveries.
"The World Health Organization says this rate should not exceed 15-20 percent," she said.
“If you take a look at the European Union averages, this rate is not over 20 percent.” - www.shafaqna.com