The government has no voice in family planning!

With its latest measures aiming to tighten regulations on medical sterilization, the government is about to intrude into the private lives of citizens. The proposal is another attempt at increasing the number of births – however, similarly to abortion regulations, the planned restrictions are not only inexpedient, but they also violate basic rights.

According to the proposal, only adults with three children of their own or over 40 years of age would be eligible for sterilization as a method of birth control. If this is ringing a bell, it is no coincidence. In 2005, a similar restrictive measure was repealed by the Constitutional Court. Its ruling declared that personal autonomy, such as the decision on the number of children in the family, cannot be restricted on the basis of demographic or other abstract health protection purposes.

In the opinion of the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU), conditioning the right for sterilization on a certain number of children or on an age threshold violates the right of self-determination and the right of privacy. Furthermore, it rules out the possibility of considering individual circumstances. The conditioning of constitutional rights, including the right for self-determination, on an age minimum higher than the age of majority should always be properly justified. In this case, we believe the justification is unsatisfactory for such abusive intrusion into private lives and family planning decisions. What is more, present regulations already provide significant guarantees by requiring the education of applicants  on a case-by-case basis, and by prescribing waiting times of six plus six months (three plus three over the age of 26 years) following the submission of the application.

Thus on the one hand, the proposal on the table unduly intrudes into privacy; on the other hand, it does not provide guarantees where those would actually be necessary, since women under guardianship can be sterilized against their will in Hungary today. Earlier this year, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW committee) warned Hungary to modify medical sterilization regulations with respect to guardianship, but the warning proved futile. This present proposal does not respond to the warning, and the new Hungarian Civil Code still seems to violate the law by sustaining the exclusion of these women’s legal capacity.

If you agree that individuals have the right to make family planning decisions of their own free will, and that the government should respect those decisions, sign our petition.

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