Those who are pro-choice believe abortion should remain legal, while those who are pro-life seek to prohibit it. But the two camps are not as distant as they seem. Many who are pro-choice favor “limitations” on legal abortion, and many who are pro-life concede “exceptions” to the rule. Nowadays, according to a recent Gallup poll, the percentage of Americans who consider themselves pro-life is decreasing. Fifty percent of Americans are pro-life, 41 percent pro-choice.
Abortion is a very delicate issue and will forever be employed divisively by politicians in most countries. It seems Turkey is one of these countries now. When Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan made his bold statements about abortion, remarking, “I see abortion as murder. … I am asking you: What’s the difference between killing a baby inside a mother’s womb and killing a baby after birth?” a furious debate was of course ignited -- and it feels like just the beginning.
I could not agree more with Mr. Erdoğan. I am against abortion. It is cruel and unfair to take away a person’s right to life. Abortion is brutality. As a mother of two I know that I would never have an abortion. Yet despite being opposed to abortion, I believe an individual’s personal choice cannot be judged by my own beliefs. No woman would have an abortion for fun. It cannot be an easy decision for any mother, and it would be a shame to label criminal a woman who makes that choice.
With all due respect, Mr. Prime Minister, it’s a mistake to ban abortion. If a woman thinks she needs to have one she’ll find a way to do it, whether legal or not. We have seen plenty of examples of this. So why do we take the risk of putting the mother’s life in danger to protect the life of her unborn child? I do believe if abortion is made illegal there will still be abortions, but also the rise of a dangerous medical black market.
“77 percent of anti-abortion leaders are men. 100 percent of them will never be pregnant,” says an advertisement run by Planned Parenthood, a non-profit organization providing reproductive health care, maternal and child health services in the US. What about Turkey? I wonder, is it really the obligation of the government to preserve all human life, regardless of the child’s access to care and quality of life concerns? In my view the government’s duty is not to ban abortions but to fight to raise the quality of life in society.
In the speech from which the above remarks are taken, Mr. Erdoğan also mentioned that the rate of Caesarian sections is too high in Turkey. We know he talks with statistics behind him and that C-section rates are relatively high in Turkey.
My generation grew up listening to their mother’s horrible labor and abortion stories like scary fairy tales. Mostly that generation used abortion as birth control, and when they couldn’t manage to have an abortion they had more babies than they wanted. Irresponsibly, they talked about all these issues carelessly in front of us, their children.
I believe the result of this is a high C-section rate. My generation has a phobia of vaginal delivery, because they were given lots of unnecessary opinions about how difficult a natural labor is and having a tendency to underestimate the importance of protecting the rights of the unborn. Many of us lost our potential siblings through abortions, and in that way abortion has become a normal, acceptable act. This mentality has to change.
However, I don’t think it’s easy to change that using Mr. Erdogan’s methods. What I see from across the ocean is the prime minister’s success in polemics and how those polemics cause deep divisions in Turkish society. Unfortunately, the two sides of the debate are growing further and further apart, day by day. After Mr. Erdogan’s comments, the race was on for people to make their disgusting remarks on the issue in social media, as if a pro-choice activist promotes abortion. People lost their common sense under the influence of Mr. Erdogan’s inflammatory words.
Still, I strongly believe that Turkish women deserve a better and healthier environment in which to publicly discuss legitimate issues for women. It’s hard to be a woman in our society, and it’s even harder when you feel powerless or socially impaired on the subject of women’s issues.
I am not sure if legal abortion will ever rest easily with the principles of Turkey or any other nation. However, the problem of abortion cannot be solved by legislation. It can only be solved through moral persuasion and good education. Turkish society has to learn to value and balance the right to life with the right to choice.