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Homebirth midwife Geréb's pardon plea rejected by president

Hungary’s President János Áder has rejected a request by Geréb for charges in a new procedure against her to be dropped, the President’s Office said on its website.

Áder will decide whether to grant clemency to homebirth midwife Ágnes Geréb once criminal procedures under way against have been concluded, the website said.

Geréb is serving a sentence under house custody on two counts of professional negligence in connection with supervising homebirths which ended in death and disability. A more recent procedure launched against her charges her with professional negligence, instigation to forgery and quackery.

In February this year, the court of appeals of Budapest found her guilty of professional negligence, causing death on one account and a permanent disability on another. The court gave her a two-year prison sentence in a non-appealable ruling, augmenting a preliminary sentence by excluding the option of release on probation, and increasing a five-year ban on assisting births to ten years.

Geréb, who was arrested in October 2010 for helping a pregnant woman who unexpectedly went into labor during a birth training course, has been kept under house arrest since December 2010. She was sentenced in the first instance in March 2011. She was denied clemency by former President Pál Schmitt last June.

Áder said in his statement that Geréb’s achievements are acknowledged in improving birth conditions in Hungary as well as supporting homebirth, which since 2011 is officially accepted in Hungary. He added, however, that Geréb did not stand above the law, and she must stand trial if she is suspected of violating laws and norms.

It is noteworthy, that homebirth was merely unregulated at the time of criminal procedures were launched against Geréb. A detailed regulation appeared only in 2011 March, somewhat satisfying professional and human rights associations.