Belin Benezra / The Turkish Health System in Transition: Family Planning in the Case of Istanbul

An abstract of the thesis of Belin Benezra, for the degree of Master of Arts from the Atatürk Institute for Modern Turkish History at Bogaziçi University to be taken in 2012

The Turkish Health System in Transition: Family Planning in the Case of Istanbul

This thesis focuses on the institutional history of family planning in Turkey and the ways in which it was shaped as part of larger official, international and academic discourses. The thesis provides a historical background on the period starting with the end of the 1960s and coming up to 2012, but it specifically focuses on the changes that took place after the transition in the health system in 2003 until March 2012. Family planning has been used for different purposes under changing socio-economic circumstances from the establishment of the Turkish Republic until the present day. The state policy has utilized family planning for promoting reproduction, thus maintaining a certain population growth in the early decades of the Republic, while the emphasis has changed over time from a pronatalist policy to anti-natalist policy making, especially after the 1960s. In the 1960s mainly the developmentalist perspective and Neo-Malthusian approach were dominant in policy-making. To the developmentalist approach, demographic concerns such as uncontrolled population growth, urbanization, and immigration were added during the 1970s. When the 1980s arrived, the concern with health moved to the center in the family planning. In the 1990s, the rise of human rights discourse on the global scale caused reproductive health to gain further importance. Family planning began to be conceived as a part of reproductive health. In neither of these periods were feminist sensitivities and gender specific considerations not granted their due importance. During the first decade of the 2000s, the emphasis on family planning declined in the state discourse. This was a result of the transformation in the health system initiated by the AKP regime, characterized by a neoliberal attitude to health services, in accordance with the world-wide trends.

Atatürk İlkeleri ve İnkılap Tarihi Enstitüsü’nde Yüksek Lisans derecesi için Belin Benezra tarafından 2012’de teslim edilen tezin özeti

Türkiye’de Sağlık Sisteminin Dönüşümü: İstanbul Örneğinde Aile Planlaması

Bu tez Türkiye’deki aile planlamasinin kurumsal tarihi üzerine odaklanmaktadir. 1960’larin sonundan 2012’ye kadar olan tarihsel süreç analiz edilmektedir. Fakat, özellikle 2003’te gerçeklesen Saglik Sisteminin Dönüsümü’nden Mart 2012’ye kadar olan süreçteki degisikliklikler tartisilmaktadir. Aile planlamasi Türkiye Cumhuriyeti’nin kurulumundan beri degisik çerçeveler içersinde, degisik amaçlarla kullanilmistir. Ülkenin kurulus asamasindaki devlet politikasi nüfus arttirmaya yönelik çalismalar sürdürmekteydi. 1960’lardan sonra, odak noktasi pronatalist nufüs politikasindan antinatalist nufüs politikasina geçisi gerektirdi. 60’li yillar, kalkinmaci ve Neo-Maltusçu zihniyetin hakim oldugu yillar iken, 70’li yillara gelindiginde demografik endiseler de bu zihniyete eklemlendi. 80’lerde ise, odak noktasi sagliga kaymaya basladi. 90’larda insan haklari söyleminin de küresel düzeyde yayginlasmasi ile birlikte, üreme sagligi kavrami önem kazanmaya basladi. Aile planlamasi, üreme sagliginin bir parçasi olarak algilandi. Bu tarihsel süreçlerde, feminist bakis açisina ve toplumsal cinsiyet duyarliligina gereken önem verilmedi. 2000’lerin ilk on yilinda, aile planlamasi devlet söyleminde önemini kaybetmeye basladi. Bunun sebebi ise, AKP tarafindan uygulamaya koyulan neoliberal politikalarinin bir parçasi olan Saglik Sisteminin Dönüsümü Programi’dir.