Prime Minister’s Office
4 Kossuth Lajos square
Dear Mr. Prime Minister,
We turn to you on Home Birth Day in an open letter, and ask that you facilitate the reassuring and competent settling of the domestic status of planned home births with all tools provided.
The HCLU, as committed defender of personal privacy and human rights, finds it is a garve violation of rights, that the matter of home birth is still not clarified in Hungary. In our view the matter needs to be promptly settled because currently, women wishing to give birth at home and persons assisting are systematically subject to legal offense.
Fundamental rights guaranteed in the Constitution – especially the right to dignity, the right to self determination and the right to healthcare guarantee the possibility for a woman to chose where and how she would like to deliver her child, be it a hospital, a birthinghouse or at home.
Giving birth at home is by no means prohibited by our laws, however, women chosing to do so and professionals assisting them are at best exposed to numerous difficulties, discrimination, and in worse cases are subject to administrative and criminal treatment.
In the past years, numerous successive health ministers have made promises to clarify the professional and legal confines of home birth, but have continuously failed to do so. We believe the responsibilty of the state is predominant in this delicate matter, as in the background of insecurities, conflicts, and persecution lie the attitudes of only the Obstetrics and Gynecological Professional Board which works as advisor committee to the Health Minister. It is our firm stand, that the all-time minister and administration should, especially in such delicate matters, demand professional proposals based on valid facts and arguement and not emotionally overridden, authoritarian, personal opinions. Moreover, it is their obligation to appoint academics and practicing professionals of the field to make proposals.
The task of the assisting independent midwives differs from the task of institutionalized childbirthing, as they are two totally seperate , but in most cases auxiliary professions. To expose and confirm this, based on recommendations of international organizations (UNICEF, WHO) and international experience (foreign research, statistics, analysis) and thier own 15 year experience, the domestic midwives have always had an open attitude. In 2003, on the initiative of the healthcare administration they have drafted a document titled ’ Aspects to Consider in the Devolopment of Uninstitutionalized Childbirthing in Hungary’. Unfortunately, the document has still not received any feedback.
Similarly, there was no feedback on the evaluatory visit of the group of representatives of the European Union in Hungary, supported by the TAIEX Committee, in February of 2002. They have voiced serious concern about the independent and restricted work of midwives. The group was appalled to find, that in contrast to other European Union states, in Hungary, during a labour without complications the midwives serve as assistants to the doctor and they do not have the required professional autonomy.
Based on data, about 200-300 children are delivered, pre-planned at home every year. This demonstrates that home birthing is not a mass-phenomena, but it does indicate a real demand. Women wishing to deliver their child at home, do have the right to receive the highest level of professional assistance. The fetus-protection obligation of the state demands the removal of all factors which endanger the process of adept midwives assisting women delivering their child at home.
Thus, we ask Mr. Prime Minister to take the necessary measures to assure the solution of the deadlock of birthing women and their children without delay and to ensure that homebirthing attains it’s worthy place in the healthcare system without mystification and demonization.