Turkey Passes Bill that Criminalizes Emergency Medical Care

01/03/2014
Map of Turkey

The Turkish parliament passed a bill today that will criminalize emergency medical care and punish doctors with heavy fines and imprisonment for assisting those in need. Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is urging the president of the Turkish Republic, Abdullah Gul, not to sign the bill, which would have a chilling effect on access to medical care.

Leading medical groups, including the World Medical Association, the British Medical Association, and the German Medical Association, have cautioned about the dire consequences the bill would have on medical care. The UN Special Rapporteur on the right to health has warned about the chilling effect such a law would have on accessing care.

“There is a reason the medical community is speaking out so strongly against the bill,” said Dr. Vincent Iacopino, PHR’s senior medical advisor. “The Turkish government’s intolerance of opposition is so great that it is willing to compromise its citizens’ access to care in emergencies and incarcerate physicians for simply following their ethical duty of caring for those in need. The international medical community is calling upon President Abdullah Gul to refuse to sign this bill into law because it undermines the health of Turkish citizens and their trust in the medical community.”

Article 46, which would restrict medical professionals’ ability to provide care in emergencies, is part of a larger package of bills by the Ministry of Health. Legislators have inserted language in the bill that states emergency services by authorized personnel would only be allowed “until the arrival of formal health services and health service becomes continuous.” These vague and unnecessary conditions about who could provide medical care and when will result in the arbitrary arrest and punishment of emergency medical responders.

The full article continues at http://physiciansforhumanrights.org/press/press-releases/turkey-passes-bill-that-criminalizes-emergency-medical-care.html on Physicians for Human Rights’ website.