According to a new law passed in Parliament on Wednesday, cesarean births can now only be carried out in cases of medical necessity.
The Ministry of Health’s recent release of statistics for C-section births in Turkey has sparked debate on the topic. In May Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan declared himself opposed to C-section births, and described abortion as a crime, following which the new law was passed in order to reduce the number of births by C-section.
The rate of C-sections in 2009 was 39.3 percent of all births in public hospitals, 61.8 percent in private hospitals and 63.2 percent in university hospitals. In 2010 these rates had increased to 40.2 percent, 63.7 percent and 65.2 percent, respectively. By 2011 the rates stood at 36.8 percent of all deliveries in public hospitals, 66.6 percent in private hospitals and 65.9 percent in university hospitals, indicating some increase in C-sections.
The acceptable percentage of C-section births according to the World Health Organization (WHO) is between 15 and 18 percent. The Ministry of Health launched a media campaign earlier this year to help curb increasing rates of births by C-section, and set a target to reduce the rate to 35 percent by 2013.
Even before the ministry’s campaign began, Health Minister Recep Akdağ urged women to exercise due caution with C-sections. The Ministry of Health conducted several studies to determine how best to reduce the rate, and worked with hospitals to devise feasible solutions, such as enhancing the training of doctors, and better informing the public about birth options and the potential dangers of C-sections. In addition, the Social Security Institution (SGK) reduced state financial support for C-sections from TL 675 to TL 475 and increased support for natural births from TL 250 to TL 400.