A History of Family Planning in Turkey

TAPV was founded in 1985 by a group of business people, academics, and representatives of business associations under the leadership of Vehbi Koç. The foundation has developed in parallel with the rapid societal changes which have taken place in Turkey during this period.
On the agenda of the day were the social and economic problems and unregulated urbanization that followed after mass rural-to-urban migration. This internal migration had resulted from a rapid population increase in Turkey, particularly after the 1950s. Discussions about population growth began to take place with the foundation of the State Planning Organization in the 1960s and with the commencement of the First Five Year Development Plan (1963-1967).
According to the official view expressed in the plan, as long as the rate of population growth exceeded the rate of growth in national productivity, it would slow economic development as measured by per-capita growth. Rapid growth, instead of raising the living standards of individuals, was being funneled towards meeting the needs of a rapidly growing populace. Consequently, the problems of population growth became a public topic of discussion. With the passage of the Population Planning Law by the National Assembly in 1965, the freedom of individuals to decide when and how many children to have was recognized. This was the first step in the area of family planning.
Throughout the 1960s, Turkey’s population increased at a rate of three percent while the total fertility rate, indicating the average number of live births per woman, was six. In terms of public health, an important motivation behind this law was that the research on women and children’s health had revealed that the rate of death and illness in mothers and children was disproportionately high. It was determined that more than half of deaths in expectant mothers occurred as a result of illicit abortions.
The 1970s was a period in which family planning became integrated with basic health services and in which there were efforts to connect the population with family planning resources as well as women and children’s health services. But the Fourth Five Year Development Plan (1979-1983) emphasized that the effective implementation of women and children’s health and family planning services still constituted a problem. In 1983 a step forward was taken in the form of a legal regulation; as surgical family planning options became available, women now had the option to terminate pregnancies up until ten weeks, and efforts were undertaken to make the option of this service more widely available.
In the 1970s the high infant and maternal mortality rates began to drop under the influence of expanding health services. According to the data collected by the 1978 Demographic and Health Study, the infant mortality rate was 170 per thousand. The maternal mortality rate during the same period was over 200 per hundred thousand. While the concepts of population growth and family planning have been emphasized in the field of women and children’s health, the social and economic consequences of rapid population growth continue to affect all parts of society. These effects include both internal and external immigration, urbanization, and the growth of marginalized groups.
The subject of the dynamics of rapid population growth in the context of economic development is still a controversial one, particularly with regard to the negative aspects.
As a result, organizations in both the public and the private sector have turned their attention towards the topic of population. The Turkish Family Health and Planning Foundation was founded in this context.


Turkish Family Health and Planning Foundation

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