Ankara: Thousands of demonstrators on Monday 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 carrying banners that read "my body, my choice," while shouting anti-government slogans.
Many were accompanied by husbands and boyfriends. One man carried a placard that read: "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. 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 on Sunday during a rally in the country's southeast. "No one has the right to abort a foetus 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, a source of concern for Turkey since it is engaged in a bitter fight against Kurdish rebels who want autonomy in the largely Kurdish southeast.