Turkey Drops Controversial Plan to Reduce Abortion Limits
Turkey's conservative government has dropped plans for a controversial bill that would have slashed the time limit for abortions; a parliamentary source told Agence France Presse on Thursday.
"The government has backed away from initial plans to curb abortion rights," the source said on condition of anonymity, adding that the Islamist-rooted government would instead seek to limit the number of Caesarean sections being performed in the country.
The legislation initially proposed by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), would have required all abortions to take place within the first six weeks of pregnancy, down from the 10 weeks currently allowed.
Experts said the limit would effectively be an abortion ban, since most women do not realize they are pregnant until around the sixth week of pregnancy.
Thousands of women and activists have staged demonstrations throughout the country to protest the planned measures and Turkish media have published surveys that showed that curbing abortion rights would cause AKP to lose votes, even among its female supporters.
Influential AKP lawmaker Nurettin Canikli also said the ruling party would not introduce a bill to curb abortion rights.
"The abortion issue is off the agenda. No legislation will be introduced to the parliament on this issue," he told the Turkish daily Hurriyet.
Health Minister Recep Akdag told reporters that his ministry would submit a report to the cabinet on Monday regarding abortion rights, without elaborating further.
"The matter is not to ban or not to ban abortion. The matter is to let a new understanding prevail in Turkey compatible with certain principles and enact new regulations," said Akdag.
"Abortion should never be a family planning method, or a method to prevent an unintended pregnancy," he added.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan sparked further outrage last month when he likened abortion to murder and saying that "every abortion was an Uludere," referring to a botched attack on Kurds from Uludere village by Turkish warplanes in December that claimed 34 lives.
Erdogan has frequently called for women to have at least three children, and his party intended to criminalize adultery in 2004 but backed off under pressure from the European Union.
Secular Turkey legalized abortion for medical reasons in 1965, broadening the right in 1983 to all women in the first 10 weeks of pregnancy.
Government officials also chided the high number of Caesarian births in Turkey, where they now represent half of all deliveries.
The health minister had earlier said doctors were warned against performing unnecessary C-sections amid worries that some were forcing women to undergo unnecessary surgeries in order to make more money.