- (Photo: Reuters/Stringer)
A group of Turkish women angry that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan compared abortion to murder have branded him a "woman's enemy" and planned to protest the government on Tuesday.
Erdogan reportedly made the controversial comments on Friday at a population conference where he labeled abortion a conspiracy to curb Turkey's economic growth.
"You either kill a baby in the mother's womb or you kill it after birth. There's no difference," the Turkish PM said, according to AFP. He also compared abortion to Uludere, referring to the botched attack on Kurds by Turkish warplanes in December that claimed 34 lives.
As part of the protest, representatives from various women's associations are meeting on Tuesday with Family and Social Policies Minister Fatma Sahin, who has expressed support for the PM's views. Smaller protests were carried out over the weekend, where dozens of women held out banners in Istanbul that read "Is the right to abortion the prime minister's business?" "Uludere is murder, not abortion," and "It's our womb, we have Caesarean delivery or abortion."
Caesarean births, also known as C-section, refer to surgical births where a doctor makes an incision in the belly and uterus of a woman and then removes the baby.
"Caesarean births and abortion have legal footing in Turkey. The prime minister's attempt to change the country's agenda by attacking women is a grave mistake," said Canan Gullu, head of the Federation of Women's Associations, noting that abortion in Turkey is legal before the 10th week of pregnancy.
"In such a party congress, the prime minister should have talked about women's problems including unemployment, domestic violence, or their inadequate standing in political life, instead of making politics over women's bodies," she added.
Erdogan, whose governing Justice and Development Party takes influences from Islam, which is the dominant religion in Turkey, has repeatedly called on women to have at least three children.
Pro-abortion activists in Turkey are concerned that the current government, which has been vocal against abortion, may seek to ban abortion, which has been legal since 1983.
Abortion figures in the Muslim country show that abortion is up from around 60,000 in 2009 to nearly 70,000 in 2011. The rise of Caesarian births in Turkey is also up, which now represent half of all deliveries.
Sahin also stood behind Erdogan's criticism of the high number of Caesarian births in Turkey.
"The World Health Organization says this rate should not exceed 15-20 percent. If you take a look at the European Union averages, this rate is not over 20 percent," the Family and Social Policies Minister expressed.