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In wake of protests, Turkey abandons plan to further restrict abortions

Turkish women march to protest the government's plans to ban abortion in Turkey, in Ankara, Turkey, Sunday, June 17, 2012.


In the United States, the 'abortion wars' seem to erupt every time there is a presidential election. But controversy over a woman's decision to terminate her pregnancy is also stirring elsewhere.

Earlier today, reports emerged that Turkey's conservative government has abandoned a contentious bill that would have shortened the time limit for women to seek an abortions.

The law, first proposed by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), would have required all abortions to take place within the first six weeks of pregnancy, down from the ten weeks currently allowed.

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Turkish women protested vehemently against the proposed law with thousands turning up for street demonstrations. Most women don't even know they're pregnant during the first six weeks, critics pointed out.

At protests in Istanbul women held signs reading "My body, my choice" and "I am a woman not a mother, don't touch my body." Many women focused their anger towards Longtime Turkish Prime Minister, Tayyip Erdogan, after he described abortion and caesarean births as secret plots designed to stymie Turkey's economic growth.

Although abortion has been legal in Turkey for nearly thirty years, Mr. Erdogan, has previously said he believes families should have at least three children. He subsequently upped that number to five.

While Turkey is officially secular, Mr. Erdogan is deeply conservative. He has compared abortions to botched air strikes last year near the Iraqi border that killed 34 Turkish civilians.

"Each abortion is one Uludere," he said, referring to the name of the village.

Abortions, he said, were "a sneaky plan to wipe the country off the world stage."

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