Abortion-Included Tours

“Water always finds its way”

I’ve written a little bit about health-related tourism in the past, specifically Penang, Malaysia’s efforts to use high-quality–yet very affordable–hospitals and doctors to encourage tourists to visit the state and undergo medical procedures, but, as you probably guessed from the title, this post is a little different. The Turkish government is currently debating a bill that would increase the penalties for women who have an abortion after 10 weeks and potentially reduce the legal window in which a woman can obtain an abortion from the first 10 weeks of pregnancy to the first 4.  Those in support of the bill have been using intense rhetoric: a mayor announced on television that women who want an abortion should kill themselves instead, and the Prime Minister stated that abortions and even c-sections were slowing Turkey’s economic growth.  Pro-choice supporters have taken to the streets, and many others are incensed by the Prime Minister’s comparison of abortions to the deaths–by military fighter jet–of 34 Kurdish citizens last December.

The purpose of this post is not to discuss whether this bill, and abortion in general, are right or wrong, however, but to discuss the rather interesting response the Barracuda Tour Company had to this development.  The tourism company has begun marketing “abortion tours” for Turkish women, which are pretty much exactly what they sound like: a trip to another country where women can obtain a cheap and discreet abortion.  When I first read an article about these abortion tours I thought it was some kind of satire or joke, but they are indeed very real.  So far 16 women have booked tours out of a desire to keep their abortions confidential and avoid being prosecuted.  If this bill does pass and opens the door to a debate on banning abortions entirely, as has been predicted, one can only imagine that the number of women booking these tours will increase.

Barracuda Tour Company specializes in health tourism to foreign countries, and with this new venture will provide 3 day/4 night “abortion included” trips to Crimea, Cyprus, Bosnia, and England.  The first day of the trip is reserved for a tour of the city, the second for termination and recovery, and the remainder for free time.  The general manager of the company, Cem Polatoglu, wrote in the new brochure that while he sometimes feels like a black-marketer or opportunist for benefitting from this bill, “water always finds its way,” meaning that when something is banned or there is a shortage a way to get it will always pop up.  He has found a way, as a tourism operator, to benefit from this, and feels no guilt.  After all, his company makes some money, and the countries these women are going to make some money!  The Turkish government naturally disagrees, and the Turkish Travel Agents Association (TURSAB) and the Minister of Tourism have moved in to discipline the company

So now, readers, is the part of the post where I open the debate up to you.  What do you think of Barracuda Tour’s attempt to benefit from a restriction on abortions?  Is it opportunistic and questionable for a tourism company to make money off of this, or a natural extension of health tourism?  Should women with limited access to abortions in their home countries be able to go through a tourism company to get an “abortion-included” trip to a foreign country as long as the hospital is clean and safe?  Let me know what you think!

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  1. I was reading this with my mouth open. However! the continuing oppression against women is sad seeing how far we have progressed. This tour sounds controversial but it offers a means to help women in need of an abortion so be it.

  2. Mustafa–Sorry for the delayed response! I was on a vacation of my own with limited internet access. Anyway, thank you for your comment! It’s interesting that you bring up other potentially questionable tourism practices like sex tourism and marijuana tourism; I hadn’t really thought about it that way but it does seem that there is a whole sub-section of the tourism industry devoted to high-demand activities that many consider to be morally wrong, so in that context abortion-included tours seem like the natural next step. I agree that tour operators are there to provide a service, and there is a demand for this service so of course a company that offers that service is going to pop up. I feel that the Turkish government is turning this into a legal issue, though, by debating making abortions almost impossible to obtain. Do you feel that the government has the right to do so?

    Atul–Thank you for commenting! I think you bring up a very interesting point at the end about boys being able to escape any stigma or consequences and leaving women who get pregnant to deal with everything by themselves. Banning sex before marriage seems like an extreme measure that is largely unenforceable, though. In my opinion, reducing the stigma women face is key. Do you have any more ideas about how to deal with this issue?

    -Michelle

    • Atul on 13 August, 2012 at 3:31 am
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    Hi, in my opening baracuda tours is just making the tours. They donot force any one for the abortion or any ting, they are just givng tours. Female who is pregnant and want a abortion will get it any how. they dont need to depend on tours. so why baracuda is at fault. they are jsut sellign tous to the tournty nothing else. We should even say thanks fo them what there are many girls who get pregnant in small age and cannto even tel any one because of our so called society. This way they can get their life back onto the track and get their wrong things on to rigth place with out facing any shame from the society. We always say society wil laught at us. if they come to know about this.. we are the society making if we keep on acting so inmature this is to good. Agencies do offer gay/lesbian sex tours, Nude beach tours, swingers tours. etc. why this was not banned first. in these tours people commit mistake and crimes but in Abortion a girl is goign to solvve the prolem and get her mistake revoked. The boy will get out of it its the girl who has to face it. so we should think from their point of view. If this is a ban then sex before marriage whousl also be ban and if any boy caught doing it he shold be punnised. …

    • Mustafa on 8 August, 2012 at 11:44 am
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    I can’t decide on what a woman does or doesn’t do with her body, although I should say I’m pro life. A tour operators duty is to provide services for traveller(s) visiting a place for leisure, business or other purposes. The question is more of a moral one than a legal issue. If the hospitals are well equipped & they comply with gestational limits these woman who have signed up will eventually end up there. However sad it may be the travel agency is only making the travel arrangements for 299 Euro which doesn’t seem to be opportunistic at all. People travel for sex tourism, mariujana tourism, etc. etc. and as long as we have no right to prevent these, we shall have no moral influence over these woman who travel to early terminate their pregnancy for God knows whatever their reason may be & hopefully it is forgiveable by God. Being pro life as we quite often see with the leaders of world super powers doesn’t necessarily mean they have respect for human life, if that were the case there would be no conflicts or wars in such a civilized century.

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