Thaddeus Baklinski


Huge gender imbalance prompts Azerbaijani gov’t to consider abortion ban

Thaddeus Baklinski

BAKU, Azerbaijan, July 20, 2012 ( - A senior Azerbaijani official has proposed a ban on abortion in the South Caucasus nation, calling the county’s widespread practice of sex-selective abortion “savagery” and “murder,” according to RIA Novosti.

“In many countries of the world, … abortion is regarded as murdering a human being. The destruction of unborn infants in their mothers’ wombs is not justified on humanitarian or religious grounds,” says Hadi Rajabli, chairman of the Azerbaijani parliament’s social policy committee and a member of the governing Yeni Azerbaijan party. “We therefore believe that such a ban could be introduced in Azerbaijan.”

“The termination of a child because of its gender can lead to serious consequences,” he added. “This is murder which could not be justified from any point of view.”

Approximately 112 boys are born for every 100 girls in Azerbaijan, according to statistics from Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE). The natural sex ratio at birth is about 105 boys for every 100 girls.

Rajabli’s proposal follows a similar one in neighbouring Turkey, when Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan proposed reducing the limit on abortions to the first four to six weeks of pregnancy, from the current 10 weeks. Critics have complained the measure would virtually eliminate surgical abortions in the country. Erdogan called abortion “murder” and linked it to an international population control agenda.

The Turkish government subsequently abandoned the plan in the wake of demonstrations, however.

Turkey and Azerbaijan are both secular Muslim states that share strong cultural ties.

According to the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute, Azerbaijan has among the highest abortion rates in the world. Their surveys indicate that women on average will have close to three abortions each in their lifetimes.

Abortion in Azerbaijan has been legal during the first twelve weeks of pregnancy since 1955.

But according to UN documentation, in 1982 the Azerbaijani government issued a decree allowing abortions for health reasons to be performed through the twenty-eighth week of pregnancy. The government continued to extend the circumstances under which legal abortions were available, and on 31 December 1987 it issued another decree setting out a broad range of non-medical indications for abortions performed on request through the twenty-eighth week of pregnancy. In the end, the order provided that, with the approval of a commission, an abortion could performed on demand on any grounds.

The Azerbaijani parliament, the Milli Mejlis, will table the abortion ban in its fall session, according to the RIA Novosti report.

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