Turkey has banned sperm donors and egg donation and has vowed to prosecute women traveling abroad for such a procedure, with a one-to-three year jail term penalty (click here for my recent post on this issue). Why? To safeguard Turkish racial purity, according to the Health Ministry. There is also an Islamic moral issue — in vitro fertilization is fine according to many Islamic rulings if the egg and sperm are from people married to each other; otherwise it is adultery.
Now prosecutors have opened a case against the Turkish actress, Sevda Demirel, for becoming pregnant via a sperm donor in the United States. (click here, in Turkish. Thanks, Bulent, for pointing me to this.) Apparently she chose a mixed race child to boot. She is 15 days pregnant, having first tried fertility treatment in Cyprus, then the US. She follows other media figures in Turkey who were able to have children using sperm donations from abroad, but before the March 6 ban. Prosecutors are also investigating whether any Turkish doctors or health institutions helped Demirel; they will also be prosecuted.
So much for family values, the worship of motherhood, and women’s rights to become mothers. All denied in the service of racial purity. What on earth does that mean in a place like Turkey where everyone’s Ottoman-era grandparents came from somewhere else: Balkans, Arab world, Circassians, Greece, Central Asia, Hungary, you name it…? Could ‘race’ mean Muslim? If so, perhaps a sperm donation center in Bosnia would work fine. But wait, sperm donation within Turkey is now forbidden as well. Why, if the concern is race (soy)? Is this a way to enforce patrilineality — descent reckoned only through the male line? A state-enforced patriline? The state as tribe, where every genealogical strand is traceable through the male line. In a patrilineal society, property, authority, and responsibility are all inherited through men.
Has anyone given this any thought? I’m particularly interested in this because several friends of mine have been in a similar situation — unable to have children for whatever medical reason, and needing assisted conception through sperm or egg donorship. By what right does the state forbid its citizens to become mothers and fathers? In a country like Turkey that worships motherhood and extols fatherhood, why is there no resistance to this ruling?