"Say no to Abortion Ban" signatures delivered to the government
"Say No to Abortion Ban" petition, supported by several women's organization, including WWHR - New Ways, sent the signatures they collected, to Prime Minister, Minister of Health, Minister of Family and Social Policies and Presidency, on June 19, after a press release. 'To prohibit abortion or introduce limits making it de facto impossible violates women's right to health and life,' reads the petition, signed by 55,000 people and 900 organisations.
Full text of press release:
THAT THE PROCESS TO BAN OR FURTHER RESTRICT ABORTION
BE CEASED IMMEDIATELY!
As 900 organizations and tens of thousands of people who are signatories and supporters of the Say No To Abortion Ban campaign, we hold that the right to safe abortion is an indivisible part of women’s right to make decisions about their bodily and reproductive rights. As women who took action right after the Prime minister made his statement on abortion, we started a national and international petition demanding this process be ceased IMMEDIATELY.
Abortion was not on the government’s agenda and was never held up as an issue during the election process. This issue only ever came up during the Penal Code reform (2004-2005), and the context of the discussion then was, leave aside a ban on abortion, on extending the abortion period. Yet now, abortion suddenly entered our agenda by way of a completely artificial imposition by the Prime Minister. In spite of these conditions, and within the course of only one week, the petition that is being coordinated through the www.saynoabortionban.com website has managed to collect;
- More than 55.000 individual signatures from Turkey and dozens of other countries, from people of different genders and sexual orientations, of all kinds of different languages and religious beliefs;
- From Turkey, signatures from 372 women’s organizations as well as 308 organizations, which include unions, various trade bodies ranging from medical chambers to bar associations, political parties, foundations for people with disabilities, artistic, environmental and cultural organizations, incorporating all the different segments of the society such as doctors, religious officials, teachers, social service workers, artists, students and many more;
- Signatures from 220 organizations, across 49 different countries ranging from the U.S. to Germany, France, Sweden, Luxembourg, Belgium, Australia, Netherlands, Mexico and the U.K.; from the Philippines to Nicaragua, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Congo; from Poland to Greece, Switzerland, Palestine, Argentina, Portugal, the Czech Republic, Tajikistan, Bulgaria and Russia.
Since the beginning of June, many different segments of the society have been making statements against this attempt to ban abortion, and there has been no end to protests and demonstrations. Within the past two weeks, during which the Prime Minister has labeled women who have abortions as “murderers”; The Minister of Health has not only legitimized rape by stating that “women who are raped should give birth,” but has also completely disregarded women’s organizations struggling against rape for years while attempting to change the agenda by saying “women should protest for increasing the penalty for rape crimes instead of abortion”. The Chairman of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey Health Commission stated that “abortion is even worse than Uludere,” – referring to the killing of 34 Kurdish civilians in December 2011 through an airstrike of the armed forces – there have been demonstrations in at least 23 cities. Dozens of international organizations, such as the United Nations, the European Council, Amnesty International have made statements criticizing the government on this issue. Turkish media, partly due to the enormous pressure imposed upon it, gave in to the general trend of discussing this issue through religious arguments and failed to publicize our demonstrations, actions, demands and statements adequately.
Until the Prime Minister and the government cease to disregard women’s fundamental bodily, sexual and reproductive rights over the abortion debate; until the authorities cease the attempt to ban abortion or restrict it further to make it de-facto impossible while the general trend in the world is towards removing the limitations in accordance with the criteria and period set by the World Health Organization to render a just and safe abortion possible, we will keep protesting all across the country, from Istanbul to Diyarbakır, from Trabzon to Adana. We will NEVER REMAIN SILENT in the face of police brutality against women demonstrators! We DEMAND that the women detained during the demonstrations BE RELEASED IMMEDIATELY!
As the organizations and individuals who signed on to this campaign, we know that banning abortion, or bringing further limitations to make it de-facto impossible:
- Violates women’s human right to health and life!
- Violates women’s human right to make decisions about their own sexual and reproductive health and rights!
- Constitutes yet another manifestation of the conservative mentality that does not view women as equal individuals!
Abortion is not murder but banning abortion is! Such a decision will constitute an open violation of the right to life for millions of women, and the right to live with dignity for men, women, and children alike. Freely chosen safe abortion is a women’s right to life; it cannot be restricted, and it cannot be banned. The right to safe abortion is an indivisible part of women’s rights to make decisions about their bodily and reproductive rights.
We, the undersigned 900 organizations and tens of thousands of people, when sending our signatures to the President, Prime Minister, Minister of Health and Minister of Family and Social Policy of Turkey, demand that the process initiated to ban or further restrict abortion and the politics of the Prime Minister and the Government of Turkey that target women’s bodies be ceased IMMEDIATELY!
We set out with the ‘Say no to abortion ban campaign’ and we received the support of 829 organizations and tens of thousands of people. Now, as we deliver all of these signatures, we, AS WOMEN, say that: instead of banning abortion, women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights must be guaranteed within the frame of the UN’s 1994 Cairo Declaration and Action Plan. With this in mind;
- As stated in clause 16/e of the UN Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, which has been adopted as a legal norm in Turkey that women’s right “to decide freely and responsibly on the number and spacing of their children” and the obligations of the state in ensuring it, must be stated clearly in the new constitution.
- Sexual education designed in the light of scientific data towards girls and boys must be added to the educational curricula.
- Trainings on gender equality, sexual autonomy of women and prevention of unwanted pregnancies should be provided to young and adult women and men.
- The Mother-Child Health-Family Planning centers and the relevant office in the Ministry of Health, which have been closed down, should be re-opened immediately.
- New policies should be developed to include the responsibilities of men in preventing unwanted pregnancies, and the public must be informed that vasectomy, which involves a temporary blocking of men’s sperm canals, is also an effective contraceptive technique.
- Medical centers should be opened up for men who choose to have vasectomies for preventing unwanted pregnancies. These should be within easy access in their neighborhoods, providing free vasectomies under healthy conditions and all public medical facilities should recruit trained and expert staff for the same purpose.
- All birth control services must be free, and widespread for rendering them to become accessible to everyone and to ensure that their provision is healthy.
- State should refrain from playing a restrictive role in terminating pregnancies. Albeit all of the above, in the case of unwanted pregnancies, the State should provide free and safe abortion services up to 12 weeks, the right to decide belonging only to women themselves.
- All legislation making abortion dependent on men’s permission must be revoked.
- The number of staff in public medical facilities to perform abortion or vasectomy and the number of mid-wives whose numbers have been systematically decreased, should immediately be increased to an adequate amount. When the priorities are identified within the context of the transformation in the health system, reproductive health services should be designed holistically and all services should be given necessary consideration.
- The paid parental leave period must be lengthened and parental leaves should be made optional for men and women. This leave should cover the totality of the period in which the child needs parental care, and after this period the state and employers should provide qualified child care services, including day-care and pre-schooling.