Protesters rallied in Istanbul on Sunday to protest proposed anti-abortion laws by Turkish Prime Minster Tayyip Erdogan. An estimated 3,000 to 4,000 protesters gathered, most of them women. One protestor, Bahar Guler, told Reuters that “it is our right to choose when to give birth or to have children at all. We will not bow to AKP [Erdogan’s political party] fundamentalism.”

Prominent Istanbul-based women’s rights attorney Deniz Bayram told the Wall Street Journal , “Politics are being conducted on women’s bodies. We have a government that doesn’t believe that men and women are equal. We expect a high turnout in upcoming demonstrations.”

Earlier this month, Erdogan equated abortion to murder. Abortion has been legal in Turkey before 10 weeks since 1983. As reported in the Feminist Daily Newswire, Erdogan’s proposed legislation would put severe limitations on abortion. Under Erdogan’s proposed plan, abortions would be legal only for medical reasons, and the procedure would only be permitted within eight weeks of conception. Analysts have questioned Erdogan’s motives, citing his desire for Turkey to be among the top ten economies by 2023 and his stance that population growth is crucial in achieving that goal. The Health Minister of Turkey also recently proposed penalizing hospitals that carry out elective cesarean sections, stating that he believes they lead to lower birth rates. Other groups have also said that the Prime Minister is concerned that the Kurdish minority birthrate is higher than the Turkish birthrate.

Reuters 6/3/2012, Huffington Post 6/3/2012; CBS News 6/3/2012; Wall Street Journal 6/4/2012; Feminist Daily Newswire 5/30/2012

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