Erdogan's critics see the latest issue as the clearest sign yet that his Justice and Development Party (AKP) intends to keep on with the simmering culture war between secular, Westernised Turks and the pious majority that forms Erdogan’s base.
The AKP has often sought to roll back the curbs on religion imposed by the country’s strictly secular political system. Most recently in 2010, the government repealed a regulation banning women from wearing Islamic head scarves at university.
Erdogan’s motivations, however, may be as much economic as religious.
He has vowed to lift Turkey into the world’s top 10 economies by 2023, and often states his belief that women can fuel that rise by having at least three children.
In his opening salvo against abortion, he claimed that the procedure – along with Caesarean sections – was part of a plot to hold back Turkey’s population.
“We have to know that it is an insidious plan to eliminate our nation from the world stage,” he said, in comments that provoked derision from his opponents, but reflect the nationalist siege mentality often adopted by Turkish politicians courting popular support.