Empowering dads in Turkey?

That’s one way to interpret this bit of news, I guess. Apparently, artificial insemination is illegal in Turkey, but now they have also made it a crime to get artificially inseminated abroad.

A spokesman at the Department of Health, Irfan Sencan, said the regulation was covered by article 231 of the criminal code, which makes it a crime to conceal the paternity of a child.

I do not understand the rationale for forbidding artificial insemination on basis of that article, because obviously, artificial insemination can be done with semen from a known sperm donor, like for example the husband of the woman. Adultery is a criminal offence in Turkey, but that wouldn’t technically rule out artificial insemination from donors other than the legally wedded husband, I guess.

I can imagine -although I don’t agree- forbidding artificial insemination on the grounds of pro-life arguments, namely that with artificial insemination, there are a lot of unfertilised egg cells (“potential humans”) that get tossed out (and why don’t we see pro-life activists protesting at fertility clinics then? another matter!) but that doesn’t seem to be the issue in Turkey.

As Pinar Ilkkaracan, a prominent women’s rights campaigner in Turkey, put it:

“it would be a misinterpretation of a law intended to protect the inheritance rights of children.”

“We spent years fighting to improve the law so that it would properly protect women’s autonomy over their bodies and sexuality.

“This is completely against the philosophy of the reformed penal code,” .

Obviously, this is not a step forward when it comes to women’s reproductive rights.

But I think it might actually hurt men too. I don’t know enough about Turkish society, but if it is true, as it is with many countries in the region, that it is a bit of a disgrace not to be able to reproduce, then I can imagine the following:

  • Since infertility of the woman is a ground for divorce, it will put those women who can’t conceive naturally at risk for being divorced and maybe outcast because they are denied this particular option which might very well enable them to conceive
  • It makes it impossible for men to conceal their infertility, which will stigmatise them

I would like to hear better informed voices about this.

Anyway, I think it’s a darned shame if people who are so motivated to have children are denied access to methods that would enable them to do so.

3 thoughts on “Empowering dads in Turkey?

  1. what a weird law. no eggs are thrown out in the course of artificial insemination, so that’s not going to be the motivation. (insemination simply involves injecting semen/sperm into the vagina, the cervix or directly into the uterus (usually the latter) by some means other than penis.) i wonder is it illegal (who knows, gods bless bbc reporting) to inseminate with semen from a known source. i mean, in many instances of IUI, it’s done using the partner’s own sperm, not donor sperm (because there is some mechanical issue going on for the couple that doesn’t involve the viability of their gametes). would that count as concealing paternity? very odd! and very sad for people struggling with infertility.

  2. (and of course also very sad for people looking to start or expand “non-traditional” families, etc.)

  3. I’m really confused by this. From what I understand most Sunni scholars think artificial insemination is acceptable- although they might debate the parentage (except cases where the donor is the woman’s husband). Although, recently in Turkey there’s been a rise of religious conservativism- maybe it’s due to that…

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