İrfan Aktan / DUVAR
Abortion is practically banned in Turkey, an academic who has been working on the issue has said, adding that majority of the public hospitals don't carry out abortion surgeries.
Sedef Erkmen, who recently published a book on the subject, told Duvar that the anti-abortion practices that have been systematically implemented since 2012 turned into a de facto ban.
According to Erkmen, public hospitals in 53 provinces don't carry out the said surgeries upon women's wills, while certain doctors do so in a limited amount of hospitals in the remaining provinces.
Abortion became legal in Turkey in 1983 following a years-long ban, but the de facto ban began under the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), whose leader President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has deemed it "murder" in the past.
Erkmen said that on-demand abortion is legal for the first 10 weeks of pregnancy, but women face numerous obstacles in practice.Turkey's top court orders state to pay 100,000 liras over denial of abortion to rape victim
"Since the understanding that abortion is murder is imposed by the government, some doctors don't carry out surgeries despite it being against the law. They know that they will be protected by the government if women complain about it," Erkmen said.
"It's not easy for women to take the issue to courts. Besides, women are usually referred to private hospitals from public ones," she added.
No access to birth control, high prices lead to abortions
Erkmen noted that one of the leading factors that women seek abortions is the difficulty in accessing birth control methods.
"Because the state doesn't make it easy for people to access birth control methods and because they are very expensive, women, especially impoverished ones, seek abortion. The high prices lead to unwanted pregnancies, but they also face difficulties in abortion so the problem keeps growing," Erkmen said.
If a practice is legal, it also has to be accessible, Erkmen said, adding that abortion surgeries are also very expensive in private hospitals.
Erkmen cited a study by Kadir Has University conducted in 2016, which showed that only 7.8 percent of 431 state hospitals are carrying out abortions upon will.
Some 11.8 percent of the state hospitals are not conducting the said surgeries, according to the study.Ankara police attack and detain women rallying for Istanbul Convention
Erkmen said that the practical ban on abortions can't be explained with the AKP's population policies.
"It can be seen that the AKP has been using anti-abortion discourse as part of its efforts to control women in all ways," she said, adding that the government's discourse on family values dates back to 2007.
"The family is very important for the AKP. That's why it had to choose policies that protect the family instead of women. For it to reach its 'ideal society,' women need to be a part of a family," Erkmen also said.
Women use methods that endanger their lives
Saying that women who can't access abortion choose methods that endanger their lives, Erkmen noted that women have to get a written permission from their husbands for an operation.
"For single women, the biggest fear is to be going under record. Health officials visit you at your house if you find out that you're pregnant with a test at a doctor's office," she said.
According to Erkmen, Turkey needs to allow certain medication that leads to miscarriage at home.
"The World Health Organization recommends this medicine and it's known to be safe until the 10th week of pregnancy. Only two to three in every 100,000 women need surgical intervention after taking the pill. It's being used in France since 1992 and the death rate is zero," she said.
"A study in Turkey showed that 92 percent of women would prefer to use it if necessary since abortion also has psychological consequences," Erkmen added.Uniting women against withdrawing from Istanbul Convention 'may be one of Erdoğan's worst mistakes'