On 1 January, Hungary takes over the Presidency of the European Council of Ministers. It’s vital that MEPs are told about Agnes so they can raise her case in the European Parliament.
Here’s the text of sample letter that you can send to your MEP. Please make any changes you’d like, it always makes more impact to send your own letter.
I write as one of your constituents to express my profound concern about the treatment of midwife and doctor Agnes Gereb by the Hungarian authorities. As a result of helping women given birth at home and in her birth centre, she has recently been charged with negligent malpractice and imprisoned in appalling conditions.
Women across EU member states do not all have the same level of reproductive rights. While other EU states enable women to give birth in their homes, the Hungarian government has long failed to support women in their birth choices. Hungary refuses to allow home births despite provisions in Hungarian law that give women the right to choose where to give birth. Dr Gereb has taken personal risks to support women in their choices about how they wish to give birth and is now paying a very high price.
Since respect for human dignity and respect for human rights are among the values on which the EU is founded (Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union), there are certain key principles that should be adhered to by EU member states. Hungary has breached these principles as a consequence of its treatment of Dr Gereb and its failure to provide proper care for women. In particular:
• Dr Gereb has the right to liberty and security of person: her imprisonment is unjustifiable, especially as there is no suggestion that she has deliberately caused any harm.
• Dr Gereb has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law.
• Dr Gereb has the right to be treated with dignity. She should not be subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment, in particular strip searches and intrusive searches of body orifices.
• The Hungarian government should licence midwives to provide home births within a well-integrated maternity service in which women can move between midwifery-led and doctor-led care according to their needs and wishes.
Besides violating her rights under the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, Dr Gereb’s arbitrary treatment by the Hungarian authorities also violates other provisions of EU law, in particular her freedom of establishment and her freedom to provide services under the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
I would like to draw your attention to a letter in the Guardian from Wendy Savage and Sheila Kitzinger, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/nov/09/home-birth-in-hungary.
To help Dr Gereb, please bring pressure to bear on the Hungarian authorities through any other mechanisms available to you as an MEP.