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Turkey: Law Restricting Caesarean Births

(July 17, 2012) Turkey's Parliament passed a new law on July 4, 2012, to limit births by Cesarean section to cases of medical necessity. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had declared his opposition to C-section births in May and referred to abortion as a crime; his remarks reportedly were the impetus for the adoption of the law. (Cesarean Births Restricted to Cases of Medical Necessity, TODAY'S ZAMAN (July 4, 2012).)

Debate on the issue was also sparked by the Ministry of Health's recent release of statistics on the number of C-section births in the country. According to those figures, in 2009, 39.3% of all deliveries in public hospitals, 61.8% of those in private hospitals, and 63.2% of those in university hospitals were by C-section. Although 2011 rates saw a decrease in the number of such births in public hospitals to 36.8%, the rate in private hospitals had increased to 66.6% and in university hospitals to 65.9%. (Id.)

Earlier in the year, the Ministry of Health launched a media campaign to combat the increasing rate of C-section births. It also set a deadline of 2013 to reduce the rate of such operations to 35% of deliveries. (Id.) In the United States, it was reported in December 2011 that the national Cesarean rate for 2010 was 32.8%, which was a decline of 0.1% from 2009. This was “the first dip in the national rate in over a decade.” (Rates for Total Cesarean Section, Primary Cesarean Section, and Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC), United States, 1989-2010, Childbirth Connection website (last visited July 13, 2012).)