The debate on the proposed bill to ban abortion in Turkey and fear of legal complications have spurred opportunists into action. Two weeks ago, Barracuda Tour Company of Istanbul started marketing “abortion tourism” trips to foreign countries. A three-night/four-day “abortion included” tour goes for $370 to Crimea, $600 to Bosnia and $1,873 to England. So far, 16 women that wanted to keep their abortions confidential have bought tours.
The general manager of the company, Cem Polatoglu, writes in the tour brochure: “Whenever something is banned in a country or becomes hard to find, water always finds its way. As tourism operators, we benefit from such bans and shortages.”
Crimea favored most
Baracuda sells “abortion included” tours to Crimea, Cyprus, Bosnia and England. Polatoglu said they specialize in health tourism to foreign countries and the debate in Turkey has prompted the company to organize the abortion tours. Polatoglu said until now they have sold eight tours to Cyprus, five to Crimea and three to Bosnia. “As of today, all those buying tours are under 35 years of age. We get calls from different parts of Turkey, but 14 out of 15 buyers of the tours have been from Istanbul, with one from Izmit. They are coming to us because they don’t want to be prosecuted or for their friends, relatives to know.”
Hospitals they work with abroad want only a medical report from any doctor and do not require hospital documentation. Polatoglu said they have made agreements with one clinic and one hospital in Cyprus, three hospitals in Crimea and one hospital each in England and Bosnia.
First a city tour, then abortion
The programs offer a city tour on the first day, surgery and rest on the second and free time on the third and fourth days.
Bans become an opportunity
Polatoglu said that bans create new opportunities. In his tour brochure he says, “I have been in the tourism business for more than 30 years. Sometimes I feel an opportunist and a black-marketer, but that is not my doing. Whenever something is banned in a country or something is not available or you can’t find it easily, then water always finds its way. We as tourism operators benefit from such shortages and bans.”