June 5, 2012
The Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan has raised an outcry in his country and beyond by opening a crusade against abortions and pleading for at least three children per family.
He has called upon his government to prepare appropriate legislation to ban or restrict abortions and caesarian births to strictly medical indications. Abortion, which is legal in Turkey since 1982 within 10 weeks of pregnancy, constitutes a “murder” and should therefore not be tolerated. But only about 10 per cent of pregnancies are interrupted in Turkey, one third of the European average.
One can only speculate about the motivations behind this initiative.
The most obvious is to underpin his drive for establishing Turkey as one of the principal powers in the region. But that does not require a further demographic boost. Due to its youthfulness its population will keep growing anyhow, to 86 million in 2050, compared to 79 in 2011. Turkey is bound to become Europe’s most populous country by the middle of the century, after Russia (109 million) and ahead of Germany and France with around 70 million.
Another reason may be an apprehension about a worsening demographic balance between Turks and Kurds, the latter showing a much higher fertility than Turks in the western parts of the country.
But he might also simply have wanted to appeal to the traditional elements within AKP.
The medical profession warns about the potential health risks for women trying to evade an abortion ban by applying unsafe practices.
Whatever the outcome of the initiative, it seems perfectly superfluous. Turkey’s population keeps growing at a rate of 1.2 per cent, higher than any European country. Like any other country on earth Turkey will have to stabilise its population as soon as possible. This is the real challenge.
A drive for higher population should no longer fit into the political agenda of any country. Considering the increasing scarcity of vital resources on earth it is even a crime against humanity. It would befit Europe’s political leaders to gently recall this basic truth to their Turkish colleague.
Author : Eberhard Rhein