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Turkish women protest plan to curb abortions

Bulent Kilicbulent Kilic/AFP/GettyImages

Around 3,000 women gathered in Istanbul to oppose Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s plan to ban abortion after four weeks from conception.

ANKARA, Turkey - On Sunday, thousands of demonstrators staged the largest protest yet against plans by Turkey’s Islamic-rooted government to curb abortion, which critics say will amount to a virtual ban.

Around 3,000 women - their ages ranging from 20 to 60 years old - gathered at a square in Istanbul’s Kadikoy district. Some carried banners that read “my body, my choice’’ and shouted antigovernment slogans.

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Many of the women were accompanied by husbands and boyfriends. One young protester - her left fist clenched aloft - carried a placard that read “State, take your hands off my body,’’ while a man waved a slogan reading “My darling’s body, my darling’s choice.’’

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called abortion “murder,’’ and his government is reportedly working on legislation to ban the operation after four weeks from conception, except in emergencies.

Fusun Sirkeci, a London-based obstetrician and gynecologist, said in an e-mail Saturday that most women don’t learn they are pregnant until after four weeks and it is difficult to establish placement of the pregnancy sac during that period. Abortion is presently legal in Turkey up to 10 weeks from conception.

“They say it is my body, my choice. Feminists say this,’’ Erdogan said Saturday. “No one has the right to abort a fetus in a body.’’

Analysts say Erdogan is pursuing a delicate strategy of beefing up Turkey’s regional power with a large population, while trying to balance the country’s demographics in the face of a high birth rate among the country’s Kurds.

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