ANKARA, Turkey – Turkey's health minister said Tuesday that the government wants to reduce the number of abortions, days after the prime minister likened the practice to murder.
Recep Akdag said a study was under way for possible measures against abortions — presently legal in Turkey up to 10 weeks from conception. Emergency abortions for medical reasons can be performed after that.
Prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Friday during the opening ceremony of a hospital in Istanbul that his government is preparing "legislation about abortion, and we will pass that."
"I see abortion as murder. No one should allow this," Erdogan said last week. "Either you kill a baby in a mother's womb or after birth. There is no difference."
Erdogan has long urged Turkish families to have at least three children to keep the country's workforce young and dynamic. More than 25 percent of Turkey's nearly 75 million population is under the age of 14, according to a December survey by the Turkish Statistical Institute.
He has described abortion as a "sneaky plan to wipe the nation off the world stage."
"Many societies in the West have laws about it. Now, we're working on this. It has no place in our values. It can't be allowed," Erdogan said Friday.
The anti-abortion stance has sparked national debate. Many women, including some opposition lawmakers, activists and mothers, have expressed concern over the Islamic-rooted government's plans to restrict abortions.
Akdag said Tuesday that doctors have also been warned against performing unnecessary C-sections, which Erdogan has also said he is against.
Health officials say they are worried that some doctors are pushing women into unnecessary surgeries with potentially serious consequences in order to make more money.
Family and Social Policies Minister Fatma Sahin said earlier this week that Turkey's C-section rate was more than double the average rate in European Union countries.