Turkey approves controversial medical aid bill (Update)

January 18, 2014 by Dilay Gundogan

A controversial medical bill that makes it a crime for doctors to provide emergency first aid without government authorisation came into force in Turkey on Saturday despite an outcry from rights groups.

Under the legislation that was approved by President Abdullah Gul on Friday, those convicted could be imprisoned for up to three years and face fines of nearly $1 million.

Critics fear it could be used to bar doctors and from treating protesters wounded in anti-government demonstrations as reportedly happened during mass street protests in June last year.

The US-based Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) branded the legislation another attempt by the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to quash dissent.

"Passing a bill that criminalises emergency care and punishes those who care for injured protesters is part of the Turkish government's relentless effort to silence any opposing voices," PHR senior medical advisor Vincent Iacopino said.

"This kind of targeting of the medical community is not only repugnant, but puts everyone's health at risk," he said in a statement on the PHR website.

The legislation, drawn up by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), bars from working outside state health institutions and is aimed at preventing doctors from setting up private clinics for example.

Medical professionals who break the law would face up to three years in prison and be fined up to $985,000 (728,000 euros).

Last month, the United Nations had also raised concerns about the bill and urged the government to reconsider it.

"If adopted, it will have a chilling effect on the availability and accessibility of emergency in a country prone to natural disasters and a democracy that is not immune from demonstrations," UN Special Rapporteur on the right to health, Anand Grover, said in a statement.

"Enacting laws and policies criminalising provision of medical care to people challenging state authorities, such as political protesters, will certainly deter healthcare workers from providing services due to fear of prosecution," he warned.

During the unrest which gripped the country last year, the Turkish doctors' association repeatedly accused government forces of preventing medics from treating injured people.

At least six people were killed and some 8,000 hurt in nationwide clashes between police and protesters who took to the streets in a wave of public opposition to Erdogan.

After 11 years in power, the Islamic-leaning premier is accused of becoming increasingly authoritarian and of trying to impose greater government control and his conservative religious values on all sectors of the traditionally secular society.

He has pushed through unpopular reforms including restrictions on the sale of alcohol and proposals to limit abortion rights, and his government is also seeking to introduce controversial curbs on the Internet.

Explore further: Turkey approves controversial health legislation

Related Stories

Turkey approves controversial health legislation

January 17, 2014
Turkey's president has approved legislation that critics say could give authorities new powers to prosecute doctors for providing care deemed unauthorized.

Spanish govt approves new restrictive abortion law (Update)

December 20, 2013
Spain's conservative government on Friday approved tighter restrictions on abortion, allowing the practice only in the case of rape or when there is a serious health risk to the mother or fetus.

Recommended for you

Expert: Be concerned about how apps collect, share health data

October 20, 2017
As of 2016 there were more than 165,000 health and wellness apps available though the Apple App Store alone. According to Rice University medical media expert Kirsten Ostherr, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates ...

More teens than ever aren't getting enough sleep

October 19, 2017
If you're a young person who can't seem to get enough sleep, you're not alone: A new study led by San Diego State University Professor of Psychology Jean Twenge finds that adolescents today are sleeping fewer hours per night ...

Across Asia, liver cancer is linked to herbal remedies: study

October 18, 2017
Researchers have uncovered widespread evidence of a link between traditional Chinese herbal remedies and liver cancer across Asia, a study said Wednesday.

Eating better throughout adult years improves physical fitness in old age, suggests study

October 18, 2017
People who have a healthier diet throughout their adult lives are more likely to be stronger and fitter in older age than those who don't, according to a new study led by the University of Southampton.

Global calcium consumption appears low, especially in Asia

October 18, 2017
Daily calcium intake among adults appears to vary quite widely around the world in distinct regional patterns, according to a new systematic review of research data ahead of World Osteoporosis Day on Friday, Oct. 20.

New study: Nearly half of US medical care comes from emergency rooms

October 17, 2017
Nearly half of all US medical care is delivered by emergency departments, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM). And in recent years, the percentage of care delivered ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.