Görmez shared his views on the much-debated abortion issue during a meeting of provincial muftis in Sakarya. Stating that parents do not have “ownership” of the fetus in Islamic belief, he added that they do not have the right to end its life. “So, a pregnant mother does not have the right and the authority to say: ‘The body is mine, I can use it however I want. I can both have a baby and get rid of it if I want.’ The mother is not the real owner of the fetus she carries. She cannot arbitrarily kill it. She is entrusted with taking care of it, protecting it and keeping it alive,” he said.
However, Görmez said that contrary to Catholic teaching, Islam sides with the mother when a decision needs to be made between protecting the mother and the fetus, underlining that Islam attaches much importance to protecting the mother’s health. “I also want to point to a mistake many have been making on this issue. It is a gross injustice to handle this issue as a women’s issue as men have always held the greatest responsibility in this issue throughout history. And women have been those who suffered the most and have been victimized,” he said.
Discussions on abortion have dominated Turkey’s agenda for the past week after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan sparked outrage among women’s rights groups, opposition lawmakers and media critics when he delivered two fiery speeches in which he attacked abortion and caesarean births as “secret” plots designed to stall Turkey’s economic growth. He referred to abortion as “murder” and added that no one has the right to approve abortions.
Görmez also noted that abortion is banned in Islam and seen as murder, underlining that it is not a contraceptive measure. In further remarks, he noted that special cases when the mother’s life is at risk, when the baby was conceived through rape or when the fetus has serious health problems should be discussed by theologians, psychologists, psychiatrists and experts of forensic medicine before a final decision is made to end the life of the fetus.
The government says it is working on a bill that plans to decrease the time in which abortions can legally be performed from 10 weeks -- reportedly to a four weeks into a pregnancy. Abortion up to the 10th week after conception has been legal in Turkey since 1983. Görmez’s statements drew criticism from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) later in the day. CHP deputy group chairman Akif Hamzaçebi called on Görmez to think about the reasons that urge women to have abortions, saying that women do not undergo the procedure casually.
“If Mr. President wants to give a message to the legislators, this is wrong. No woman has an abortion without powerful reasons. There must be reasons for it. Before there was no such problem [regarding abortion] in Turkey: It suddenly came to Turkey’s agenda. I wonder whether there have been women for thousands of years who were punished by religion for resorting to this method,” Hamzaçebi said.