ISTANBUL - Women’s rights advocates in Turkey have taken to the streets of Istanbul to protest Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s call to restrict women’s access to abortion and caesarean birth procedures.

About 2,000 men and women gathered in Istanbul’s Anatolian center, Kadikoy, on Sunday, waving banners and chanting against the forthcoming legislation, which would severely limit the right of women to have an abortion. “Long Live Solidarity of Women” read one sign. “ Abortion is a Right” read another.

Many women chanted about honor killings, saying that banning abortion will feed further violence and violations of women’s rights. Protesters warned that the banning of abortion will only push the practice underground, where unsafe procedures can lead to far more deaths of women.

“Whether it is about our body, abortion, labor, or sexuality; we will not allow limitation to our rights,” protestors chanted. 

The women participating in the march demanded that contraception and modern sex education be made more accessible for women.

A significant number of men attended the protest and a deputy from the Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) offered his support to the women leading the protest.

Last week, Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan spoke about the issue, calling abortion "murder," referring to it as an insidious plan and calling for legislation to restrict women's access to it.

Abortion has been legal in Turkey for almost 40 years, albeit only for pregnancies up to 10 weeks and emergency abortions for medical complications that occur after that. Now, Erdogan proposes that the procedure be banned altogether, unless there is a medical emergency within eight weeks of conception.

Read the full story in Turkish

Photo - Steve Evans

*This is a digest item, not a direct translation