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Turkey – Maternity and Giving Birth

Turkey is a country located in Eurasia, bordered by eight countries and two seas. It has a diverse population, with different cultural and religious backgrounds, which affects the way childbirth is approached. In this article, we will discuss the most common options for giving birth in Turkey, how to register a birth, and the attitudes to and legislation surrounding abortion in the country.

Giving Birth in Turkey

Most births in Turkey take place in hospitals, with home births being rare. Women are usually expected to give birth in a hospital setting, where medical professionals can provide necessary care and support. There are both private and public hospitals in Turkey, and pregnant women can choose between them based on their preferences and financial situation. Private hospitals generally offer more personalized care, but they are also more expensive. Public hospitals, on the other hand, are usually more affordable and have a larger number of experienced staff.

During pregnancy, women in Turkey are expected to receive regular check-ups from a gynecologist or a midwife. These check-ups usually include monitoring the baby’s growth and the mother’s health, and they are important to ensure a healthy pregnancy and safe delivery.

There are also many birthing centers in Turkey that offer alternative options for giving birth. These centers provide a more natural and homely environment for women who prefer to avoid medical interventions during childbirth. They are run by experienced midwives who provide continuous support throughout labor and delivery. However, these centers are not as common as hospitals and may not be covered by insurance.

Registering a Birth in Turkey

In Turkey, births must be registered with the civil registry office (Nufus Mudurlugu) within 30 days of the baby’s birth. The process of registering a birth involves several steps:

  1. Obtain a birth notification form (dogum bildirim formu) from the hospital or midwife where the baby was born.

  2. Fill out the form with the necessary information, including the baby’s name, sex, and date of birth, as well as the parents’ names and identification numbers.

  3. Submit the form along with the required documents to the civil registry office. The required documents usually include the parents’ identification cards, the baby’s health certificate, and the parents’ marriage certificate (if applicable).

  4. The civil registry office will then issue a birth certificate (dogum belgesi) that confirms the baby’s birth and includes all relevant information. This certificate is important for various legal and administrative purposes, such as obtaining a passport or enrolling the child in school.

Attitudes to and Legislation Surrounding Abortion in Turkey

Abortion has been legal in Turkey since 1983 and is available up to the tenth week of pregnancy. Beyond the tenth week, abortions are allowed only if the pregnancy poses a risk to the life or health of the mother or if the fetus has a severe abnormality. In such cases, an abortion can be performed up to the twenty-fourth week of pregnancy.

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While abortion is legal in Turkey, it is still a highly debated and controversial issue. The government and religious conservatives have been pushing for tighter restrictions on abortions, with some calling for a complete ban.

In 2012, the Turkish parliament passed a controversial law that limited the time frame for abortions to the first eight weeks of pregnancy, down from the previous ten weeks. The law also made it more difficult for women to access abortion services by requiring that all abortions be performed in a hospital and only by authorized doctors.

The law sparked protests and opposition from women’s rights groups, medical associations, and other civil society organizations, who argued that it violated women’s reproductive rights and could endanger their health by forcing them to seek unsafe abortions.

In 2020, the Turkish government proposed a new bill that would further restrict access to abortions by requiring women to undergo mandatory counseling and waiting periods before being allowed to undergo the procedure. The bill was met with widespread criticism and protests, and it has yet to be passed into law.

In summary, while abortion is legal in Turkey, it remains a highly controversial and politicized issue. The government and conservative forces continue to push for stricter regulations, which are met with opposition from women’s rights groups and civil society organizations advocating for reproductive rights.

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