Turkish women push back against abortion limits
ISTANBUL, Turkey -- Beating drums and blowing whistles, hundreds of women marched last month on Istanbul's central Taksim Square, in one of dozens of rallies that have been held around the country to protest a new threat to reproductive rights.
Abortion until the 10th week of pregnancy has been legal in Turkey since 1983, and little contested until Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan railed against the practice in May, calling it akin to "murder." Other officials subsequently ramped up the harsh rhetoric, characterizing abortion as a "greater crime" than rape and suggesting that "adulterous" women kill themselves instead of their fetuses.
Under the leadership of Erdogan's Justice and Development Party, first elected to power in 2002, Turkey has been held up by the press, think tanks and the Turkish government itself as a model for the Middle East. An NPR report from earlier this year called Turkey a "modern, moderate Islamic country that works."
But many activists believe the "Turkish model" is seriously flawed.
"The approach of the government in recent years, especially after its  re-election, has created a battleground around equality. [The abortion issue] is part of a larger backlash against women's rights," Liz Amado, president of the Istanbul-based organization Women for Women's Human Rights, told Women's eNews.