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In Turkey, Tough New Prison Sentences For Women Who Have Abortions

Earlier this year, Prime Minister Erdogan called abortion "murder," setting off protests in Turkey, where the practice has long been allowed early in pregnancies. Now, a woman who has an abortion after the 10th week faces three years in jail.

Article illustrative image Partner logo Erdogan has made abortion a new point of conflict in Turkey (Adam Jones)(

ANKARA - New tougher restrictions on abortion in Turkey have been proposed by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) with the latest legislation calling for a three-year prison sentence for any woman who undergoes "medically unnecessary" abortions after the 10th week of pregnancy.

Currently, abortion laws in Turkey prohibit women from having an abortion after 10 weeks, but set the maximum prison sentence at one year.  

Should the bill pass, doctors and healthcare personnel will have the right to refuse an abortion to any woman who is more than 10 weeks pregnant, unless their pregnancy is detrimental to their health.

Under the new regulations, young girls who are victims of rape or incest don’t have to get consent from a parent or guardian to have an abortion, but the same 10-week rule applies unless the pregnancy needs to be terminated for medical reasons.

Last month, the Turkish Minister of Health, Recep Akdag, said the state would look after unwanted babies conceived through rape.

The draft bill also calls for increased spending to provide treatment to ease the physical pain of childbirth, and will expand the duration of paid maternal leave for mothers.

In addition to stricter abortion regulations, the Ministry of Health is working to increase the level of sex education available to women. More family planning clinics will be established, providing specialized courses and seminars, and birth control will be available for free from doctors working at these facilities.

The new proposal has emerged a month after Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called abortion “murder,” referring to it as an insidious plan and calling for legislation to restrict women's access to it.

Women were outraged by the parliamentary address and flocked to the streets to protest the call to ban abortion.

Abortion has been legal in Turkey for nearly 40 years, albeit only for pregnancies up to 10 weeks, and otherwise only emergency abortions for medical complications.

Read the original article in Turkish.

Photo - Adam Jones


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