Legal but not accessible: abortion in Turkey from an ethical perspective

By Gender DSC

Can abortion just be a medical decision?
As has been reported by Amnesty International, “Around 47,000 women die as a result of unsafe abortions every year.” The testimony of Rajat Khosla, Amnesty International’s Senior Director of Research and Advocacy shows the peril of the siege over women’s bodies. Although the political authorities try to establish their presence under the subject of religious sensitivity with the slogan that “abortion is murder”, many women have died as a result of the operations carried out under improper conditions.

In countries where abortion is restricted or prohibited, women who are wealthy have the chance to get an abortion abroad and return to their countries, while the poor have to terminate their pregnancy using dangerous methods such as clothes hangers, as in Argentina.


Abortion increasingly hard to access in Turkey

Oct 6, 2020
Listen: 6:43 podcast

When Sevilay, a 38-year-old, stay-at-home mom in Istanbul, learned she was pregnant with a third child, she agonized over what to do.

“I became very upset when I learned about my
pregnancy. I wondered whether I could do it or not. I was already having a hard
time with two kids. There was nobody that could help me.”


Turkey – Restriction on access to abortion is human rights violation: Top court

September 11 2020

Turkey’s top court has ruled that a woman’s rights were violated when she was denied an abortion for a pregnancy that was the result of sexual assault.

A 17-year-old young woman got pregnant as a result of sexual assault in 2017 and the survivor’s family complained about the perpetrator in the southern province of Mersin, according to the Constitutional Court’s decision.


‘Turkey should step up efforts on zero target for mother deaths’

'Turkey should step up efforts on zero target for mother deaths'

Barçın Yinanç - NAIROBI
November 18 2019

Professor Ayşe Akın received a United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) award last week in Nairobi, Kenya at the International Conference on Population and Development (ICDP25) for her contribution to the health of women at the global and national levels since 1994, when the first ICDP took place in Cairo, which she had also attended.

Can you give us an overview of Turkey’s population policies?

The new republic’s population was 13 million at the end of the war of liberation, when a lot of men had lost their lives. Modern Turkey founder Mustafa Kemal Atatürk had endorsed a pro-natal policy, but he has no forceful statement on the record.


Turkey slammed after launching terror investigations into those who have had abortions

Turkey slammed after launching terror investigations into those who have had abortions

Steve Sweeney
Tuesday, September 10, 2019

HEALTH professionals in Turkey have hit out after security services demanded lists of the names of all women who had abortions in Istanbul between January 2017 and May 2019 as part of “terror investigations.”

Istanbul’s Provincial Directorate of Security demanded the confidential information by September 13 in a letter sent to every public and private hospital across the city.


Turkey’s women face dangerous conditions to obtain legal abortion

Turkey's women face dangerous conditions to obtain legal abortion
Women seeking an abortion in Turkey face considerable danger and many hurdles. While the procedure is legal, experts say in reality there is a de facto ban, believed to be orchestrated by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Date 27.01.2019
Author Burcu Karakas

"I thought I'd go to some sort of hospital. But instead, it was an apartment on the second floor of a three-story building. A man with a cigarette in hand opened the door. I entered an apartment with a living room and kitchen. The bathroom in what apparently was the parents' bedroom had been converted into an abortion room. The operating table was filthy and covered in blood."

Horror takes hold of Gul as she describes the place in Istanbul's Alibeykoy district where she went to have her pregnancy terminated. What she encountered was one of Turkey’s illegal abortion clinics, often housed in converted apartments despite the procedure being legal in Turkey.


Turkish court rules for girl’s abortion, releases rape suspect

Turkish court rules for girl’s abortion, releases rape suspect
December 13 2017

Turkish court rules for girl’s abortion, releases rape suspect

An 11-year-old pregnant girl has undergone abortion after a court ruling allowed her in the Central Anatolian province of Afyonkarahisar, Doğan News Agency reported on Dec. 13.

The girl turned out to be two and a half months pregnant when she complained of stomach ache after going to a public hospital on Nov. 7.

The hospital then reported the situation to the police.

Continued at source:

Restricting access to abortion services: Turkish government policy since 2012

by Safe Abortion
Nov 17, 2016

During the pro-natalist period, the Turkish Penal Code, ratified in 1926, considered induced abortion to be a crime. (1) However, research showed that the practice of abortion continued on a large scale, irrespective of the laws or the penalties. (2) It was estimated at the end of the 1950s that the number of illegally induced abortions approached half a million per year, with around 10,000 deaths annually from complications. (3) Maternal mortality from other causes also remained high. According to a survey in 1959, the estimated maternal mortality ratio in rural areas was 280 deaths per 100,000 live births. It was also estimated that 53% of maternal deaths were abortion-related. (4,5)

In 1965 a “population” law was enacted, allowing the sale and use of contraceptive methods. Abortion was permitted only to save the life or preserve the health of the pregnant woman and in cases of fetal impairment. (6) Abortion was then legalised in Turkey in 1983 up to 10 weeks of pregnancy on the decision of women. The decision has to be confirmed by the husband, however, if the woman is married, or by the parents/legal guardian if the woman is aged under 18. Pregnancies over ten weeks can be terminated only on medical grounds. (7)

After 1983, the numbers of unsafe abortions and their adverse effects decreased sharply. The prevalence of induced abortions rose initially, but started to decline in the 1990s and continues to do so today. According to Turkey Demographic & Health Survey data, the number of abortions per 100 pregnancies dropped from 19.0 in 1983 to 4.7 in 2013. (8)

Since 2012, there has been political opposition to the provision of abortion services. Some hospital clinics that provided both family planning and abortion services had to stop providing abortions. Thus, the availability of safe abortions depends not only on permissive legislation but also on political support and the ability of health professionals to provide it. If restrictions on accessing abortion services continue, the country will again be faced with an increase in women seeking abortions in unsafe conditions, resulting in increases in maternal morbidity and mortality.

SOURCE: S Sinan Ozalp, Emeritus Prof. Eskişehir Osmangazi University Faculty of Medicine and Department of OB/GYN, Eskişehir, Turkey, October 2016 [References in Turkish available] ;

PHOTO: PRI, by Bulent Kilic

SEE ALSO: Campaign newsletter, 5th article, 28 October 2016

Source: International Campaign for Women's Right to Safe Abortion

Turkey: Abortion is legal but not accessible, university study shows

Thursday, October 20 2016
Hurriyet Daily News

Almost 10 percent of gynecology units at Turkish public hospitals do not offer abortion services, while some 78 percent provide the operation only if it is a life-threatening situation, research prepared by the Istanbul-based Kadir Has University has revealed.

It concluded that although abortions are legal, they are not very accessible in the country.

The study, “Legal But Not Necessarily Available: Abortion Services at State Hospitals in Turkey,” prepared by the university’s Gender and Women’s Studies Research Center found that there were around 431 hospitals in Turkey that have gynecology units but that out of this number, around 11.8 percent answered the question of whether they provide abortion services or not as “no.”

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Source: Hurriyet Daily News