How Do Pronatalist Policies Impact Women’s Access to Safe Abortion Services in Turkey?

Pınar Telli*, Tomris Cesuroğlu, Feride Aksu Tanık

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    A pronatalist discourse and anti-abortion rhetoric used by prominent politicians in Turkey, prior to and following the proposed ban of abortion in 2012, have resulted in reports of women facing difficulty accessing safe abortion services (SAS), risking the resurgence of unsafe abortions. We conducted a qualitative study to identify the impact of the ongoing pronatalist discourse on women’s access to SAS, using semi-structured interviews with 19 experts (16 female, 3 male) in reproductive health, including academics, doctors, midwives, and health authorities. Participants from 4 cities (Ankara, Istanbul, Izmir, and Manisa) were identified through a combined snowball and purposive sampling technique. The findings show that the pronatalist discourse has directly and indirectly inhibited access to SAS. Women’s and health professionals’ perception of abortion services has been tainted by rhetoric; provision of SAS in the public sector is slowly ceasing; and health reform-related organizational changes have diminished access to family planning services and contraceptive methods. Provision of SAS in the private sector continues but is only accessible for women with sufficient financial means. Preventing women’s access to SAS risks a rise in unwanted pregnancies and—consequently—in the number of women who may seek dangerous alternatives, including unsafe, life-threatening abortions.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)799-816
    Number of pages18
    JournalInternational Journal of Health Services
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019


    • access to induced abortion
    • conservatism
    • pronatalist policy
    • Turkey
    • unsafe abortion


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