Ayse Dayi: “Neoliberal Health Restructuring, Neoconservatism and the Limits of Law: Erosion of Reproductive Rights in Turkey”, Health and Human Rights Journal, December 2019.

Available with open access here.


Through focusing on the neoliberal “Health Transformation Programme” launched in 2003 in Turkey, I show how reproductive law can be modified by neoliberal mechanisms that are implemented with neoconservative policies and pressures. The paper builds on original data collected in 2014 and 2015 through focus groups and interviews with health practitioners in family health centers and women receiving reproductive care in Izmir, Diyarbakir, Van, and Gaziantep. The data analysis informed by writings on the debt economy by Maurizio Lazzarato and Bifo Berardi and transnational feminist theory demonstrate that neoliberal mechanisms of “dismantling the public” interact with pronatalist policies and pressures to erode women’s reproductive rights in Turkey. This has resulted in (1) indebtedness of women through out-of-pocket payments for contraception and abortion, (2) indebtedness of providers through performance measures, (3) reduction in the quality of reproductive care, and (4) reduction in access to reproductive care itself (contraception, counseling, and abortion). There is a need to pay attention to neoliberal mechanisms and the legal framings of reproductive rights to fully understand the limitations of law and counter the neoliberal and conservative assaults on women’s sexual and reproductive rights.