Abortion is a right: Launch of new abortion website in Turkey

In an important development for sexual and reproductive health and rights in Turkey, a new website has been launched to support abortion rights and combat the denial of care faced by individuals seeking abortion care services. The website “Kürtaj hakkım” (My abortion right) is a collaboration of three organizations; Women for Women’s Human Rights (WWHR), Mor Cati and Women on Web, and aims to serve as a platform to provide information, resources, and support to individuals facing barriers to accessing abortion services in Turkey.

Abortion rights and access in Turkey

In Turkey, abortion is legal at women’s request up to 10 weeks. Despite this legal context, accessing abortion services can be challenging due to societal stigma, cost, and the reluctance of healthcare providers to perform the procedure. Denial of care is a particularly pressing issue, with reports of medical professionals refusing to provide abortion services, thereby violating the rights of patients and putting their health and well-being at risk.

Abortion access is further undermined by the pro-natalist policies. These policies aim to increase the country’s birth rate by incentivizing larger families through financial incentives and other support measures, discouraging recourse to contraception and abortion. In this context, the president of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was infamously quoted recommending women to “have at least three children.” Pro-natalist policies reflect a deeply ingrained patriarchal attitude that seeks to control women’s bodies and reproductive choices. They reinforce traditional gender roles and places undue pressure on women to prioritize motherhood above other aspects of their lives, disregarding their individual aspirations, career goals, and personal freedoms.

These pro-natalist policies have also been compounded by anti-abortion statements and policies. A major concern in this context is the lack of access to abortion pills, which further restricts women’s choices for abortion. Mifepristone, one of the pills used in medical abortion, is still not registered in Turkey. Misoprostol, another pill used in medical abortion, is available in the country, but access to it has been restricted from community pharmacies to hospital pharmacies since 2012, in an attempt to prevent women from using it for abortion purposes.

“My abortion right”

The project “My Abortion Right” comes to the fore in this context as a bold feminist endeavor to reclaim women’s ownership over abortion rights and their bodies. This initiative seeks to challenge the stigma surrounding abortion and advocate for the effective implementation and enforcement of abortion rights.

The website “Kürtaj Hakkım” (My Abortion Right) aims to reach both healthcare professionals and abortion seekers, among others. The website provides educational resources and values clarification guidelines for healthcare professionals providing abortion care. These resources are designed to promote a more compassionate and patient-centered approach to care, in line with the latest recommendations and guidelines from the World Health Organization. By providing evidence-based information and practical guidance, the website supports healthcare professionals in delivering high-quality, nonjudgmental care to individuals seeking abortion care.

Moreover, the website serves as a valuable resource for individuals seeking abortion care by offering accurate information about their rights, options, and the abortion procedure itself. It enables individuals to search for women’s organizations, health organizations, and provincial health directorates as per the city they are located in and facilitate access to local support networks who can offer information and assistance regarding abortion care. By empowering individuals with knowledge and resources, the website contributes to advancing abortion rights and health equity in the country.

The project “My Abortion Right” marks a significant stride forward in the ongoing struggle for abortion rights in Turkey, echoing the resounding assertion that abortion care is a legal right in the country and women should be able to access abortion without facing undue pressure, social stigma, or discrimination.

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