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Turkish laws fail to protect women's right to choose

Turkey’s government asks whether "abortion is a disease.”
Demonstrators shout slogans as they march with placards during a protest against the government's plans on a new abortion law, in Istanbul June 17, 2012. Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said his government was preparing a draft bill on abortion and intended to enact it into law, a move likely to escalate a row over the practice which the Turkish leader has called "murder". Erdogan sparked outrage from women's groups, opposition lawmakers and media critics when he delivered two fiery speeches last mont

On Feb. 18, news broke that a 15-year-old under the care of Child Protective Services was a victim of rape. This crime was brought to light after authorities discovered that the girl was nine weeks pregnant. Child Protective Services sought permission for an abortion because the victim was a minor, the pregnancy had resulted from rape and, most important, the victim’s mental health was of concern. The courts denied permission to terminate the pregnancy of a child who had no choice in becoming pregnant.

On March 4 in Adana province, a 22-year-old woman attempted to commit suicide because she had been unexpectedly denied an abortion at a government hospital. Hearing this news, I could not help but recall the words spoken in June 2012 by Melih Gokcek, Ankara mayor and Justice and Development Party (AKP) member. Commenting on unintended pregnancies, Gokcek asserted, “What is the crime of the baby that he gets aborted? The pregnant woman should commit suicide instead.” It is rather disturbing to see that Gokcek’s wish might be coming to pass.

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