Turkey’s Anti-Abortion Legislation Throws Women’s Rights To The Wind

Posted by Viola Chen & filed under Politics.

Esther Frid holds "El Atardecer de la Vida," a book she wrote about the stories of seven senior Latin American women living in Canada

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Photo courtesy of eideard.com

Since 1965 abortions in Turkey have been legal and the rights to have an abortion were even broadened in 1983. Unlike many women’s movements around the world, the Turkish women’s movement has not had to fight for their right to an abortion since recently. Shockingly, early on in June, Prime Minister Erdogan controversially stated that he saw abortion as murder.

It is currently legal in Turkey to have an abortion up to 10 weeks from conception. With the legislation the Turkish government is trying to restrict abortion to up to 4 weeks, possibly to even a complete ban. The legislation ensued controversy and hundreds of demonstrators took the streets in Istanbul. Many banners read “my body, my choice” or “State, take your hands off my body.” A female from the opposition party even went so far as to counter-argue the PM’s statement by saying that “the prime minister should stop standing guard over women’s vaginas.”

Thankfully the government has recently dropped their anti-abortion legislation. But reading this in the media still made me angry. Why is that women are always stigmatised and made to suffer in the realm of politics? What happened to improving women’s rights?

I have a problem with people imposing their views on others, especially if it’s the government imposing their views on an individual’s private choices. It does not make sense to me for a government to be so interested and persistent on taking a woman’s right to choose control over her own body. Politicians should start seeing women as more than reproductive machines.

But besides that, it is nonsensical for the government to have even thought of reducing abortions to up to four weeks because most women do not even know they are pregnant until their 6th week. Turkey currently ranks 122nd on World Economic Forum’s gender gap index; this legislation would have just furthered this.

I am glad that Turkish women were able to maintain the rights to their own bodies and I hope that more countries that are currently trying to ban abortions will follow. Society will only respect women so long as there is equality.

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