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Hungary legalizes mothers' right to home delivery

A long-awaited detailed regulation on home birth allows women to decide where they want to give birth as long as the baby is not in danger and so does not need a hospital environment.

According to government spokeswoman Anna Nagy, the regulation, that comes into effect on April 1 and will affect births after May 1, lays down all the duties, responsibilities and competencies of those assisting homebirths. Professionals helping baby deliveries outside hospitals have to have the required qualification as well as a license from public health and medical officer service ÁNTSz.

They have to be a professional obstetricians or midwives with labor room experience exceeding two years and registered assistance at minimum 50 births. Mothers who want to give birth in a non-hospital environment have to choose the health supplier and the professionals to assist at the delivery by the 36th week of the pregnancy. The selected professionals have to be contracted with the given health supplier.

Also, mothers have to declare in advance that if the leading birth assistant or the pediatrician finds that hospitalization is necessary, they will accept it without opposition. At this point, the infant’s right to life comes before the mother’s right to autonomy.

The current regulation has been created with the contribution of the association of mother, child and public health nurses MAVE, Születésház Association, foundation for alternative birth Alternal, hospital association MKSz, the ambulance service and also human liberties association TASz.

The detailed regulation is seen putting an end to a long struggle of women wishing to give birth outside hospitals and also of those professionals helping these mothers. Due to homebirths having been so unregulated so far, an internationally recognized home birth expert Ágnes Geréb was arrested for helping a pregnant woman who unexpectedly went into labor during a birth training course. At that time, Geréb was prohibited from practicing due to a former incident that ended up in the death of a baby. After Geréb was taken in custody last October, her supporters held numerous demonstrations for her release and also for a clear regulation on home birth.