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Population politics, reproductive governance and access to abortion in Turkey.

Culture, Health & Sexuality 2024 Februrary 26
Turkey currently pursues an aggressive pronatalist population politics which has created wide-reaching reproductive governance regulating reproductive health care and family planning choices. One aspect of this orientation centres on restricting access to abortion services despite the fact that abortion is legal through ten weeks of pregnancy. This article uses nationwide data collected from mystery patient surveys administered to all public (in 2016 and 2020), and all private (2021) hospitals in the country to determine the availability of abortion services in Turkey. Less than half of all hospitals responding provided abortions to the full extent provided by law. Abortion without restriction as to reason was largely unavailable at public hospitals and the cost of care at private hospitals remained prohibitive for many. Among those hospitals we reached, in four provinces, there was no public or private hospital providing any type of abortion care. The most frequent explanation for the lack of abortion services was that abortion is illegal. This was particularly the case for public hospitals. Despite a 10-week cutoff for abortions, 39% of private hospitals responding to the survey invoked even earlier time limits creating further restrictions. The extreme pronatal orientation of the reproductive governance currently in place has created a state of reproductive injustice that makes enhanced access to abortion of vital importance.

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