There has been a considerable increase in the number of abortions in Turkey between 2002 and 2012, according to official figures provided by the Health Ministry.
While the number was 33,007 in 2002, it rose to 78,961 in 2012, Health Minister Mehmet Müezzinoğlu said in his response to a written motion filed in November 2013 by main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Deputy Chair, Istanbul deputy Sezgin Tanrıkulu. Tanrıkulu shared the recently delivered response with the media on May 5.
From January 2013 to June 2013, 29,226 abortions were conducted, according to the same figures.
A tweet posted last year by Health Ministry Councilor Ahmet Özdinç stating that there had been “a boom in abortion applications by university students,” and his subsequent statements on the issue, prompted Tanrıkulu to file such a motion.
At the time, Özdinç cited “meetings with gynecologists in university neighborhoods” as evidence for such a claim.
However, in his response, Müezzinoğlu emphasized that the alleged boom in abortion applications among female university students was only Özdinç’s “a personal conviction.”
“There has been no field study conducted by our ministry in this field,” he added.
Müezzinoğlu also responded to a question on the collection of information from people who had an abortion. He stated that personal data and information regarding people who use his ministry’s health services had indeed been recorded, with the principles of confidentiality and privacy taken as a basis.
In May 2012, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan sparked outrage when he likened abortion to murder by saying that “every abortion was an Uludere,” referring to the killing of 34 civilian Kurdish villagers by Turkish jets on Dec. 28, 2011, on the Turkish-Iraqi border. The victims were smuggling oil from Iraq, and the military mistakenly identified them as members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Since then, abortion has become an increasingly politicized issue.
In 2012, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) proposed legislation that would have required all abortions to take place within the first six weeks of pregnancy, down from the 10 weeks currently allowed. In the face of country-wide demonstrations by thousands of women and activists in protest of the planned measures, the government dropped the plans. According to current Turkish law, women can still legally receive an abortion during the first 10 weeks of pregnancy, as has been the case since 1983.