Hospital Birth for Home? – Opinion of Seven Civil Society Organizations on the Latest Version of the Law on Home Birth

Seven civil society organizations, including HCLU, submitted an opinion on the latest version of the government decree regulating home births prepared by the Ministry of National Resources. 

There is no significant difference between the version sent to the organizations participating in the consultations and the one handed out to the press last December. The draft text of the law, the headnote of which states that it cannot be considered the official position of the meeting of the administrative state secretaries, violates the requirements of equal opportunities on several points. The organizations forming the joint-opinion would like to bring to the attention of the ministry that the law could only be the first step of the necessary reform regulating obstetrical services, and that regulating the conditions of ambulant birth would be essential. 

The organizations, forming the opinion, welcome the aim of the government to set the state duties in connection with home birth to rights after 20 years of irregularity that affects fundamental constitutional rights. However, several criticisms have been made of the actual text of the draft. 

In our opinion the law does not meet the requirement of creating the freedom of real choice: it tries to force the rules of hospital birth on home births, and lists home birth among the non-financed services. The more severe terms concerning the district nurse - for mother- and child-care - service and prenatal care for those choosing home birth is a violation of equal opportunities. A fundamental deficiency of the present text of the law is that it does not mention the creation of a separate professional code, which is a basic condition for both working and acquiring a license for professionals attending home births. Once again we called the attention of the legislator to the Directive 2005/36/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council, which – among others – includes the competence of midwives and has not been implemented by Hungary, yet.

The law would specify the cooperation of a pediatrician at planned home births, but it does not clarify the meaning of ‘cooperation’ and whether the pediatrician is to be present at the birth or not. The organizations signing the joint opinion suggested that the specialists of home birth and the family doctor should carry out tasks of their competence instead of a pediatrician.

The organizations, signing the document, suggested that a supervision of the new regulation, in light of observations, should take place 2 years after the law came into force. The law should include this supervision, naming the liable person as well.

The joint opinion was written and signed by Alternatal Foundation, Család-Vár Foundation, the Association of Independent Midwives (Független Bábák Szövetsége), Daylight Birth Center (Napvilág Születésház), Physicians for Free- and Safe Birth (Orvosok a Szabad és Biztonságos Szülésért), Birth Center Association (Születésház Egyesület) and the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union.

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