European Court criticises Hungary and protects women’s right to home birth

Fantastic news! In a case brought to the European Court of Human Rights by a Hungarian woman who wasn’t able to give birth as she wanted, the Court has criticised the “permanent threat” to health professionals in Hungary.

The Court found that women’s right to choose where to give birth is protected under Article 8 of the European Convention (right to private and family life). The case is called Ternovszky v Hungary
The Court found the Hungarian law regulating home birth is confused and arbitrary. The Court stated:

[T]he matter of health professionals assisting home births is surrounded by legal uncertainty prone to arbitrariness. Prospective mothers cannot therefore be considered as freely benefiting from such assistance, since a permanent threat is being posed to health professionals inclined to assist home births by virtue of Government Decree no. 218/1999 as well as the absence of specific, comprehensive legislation on the matter. The lack of legal certainty and the threat to health professionals has limited the choices of the applicant considering home delivery. For the Court, this situation is incompatible with the notion of “foreseeability” and hence with that of “lawfulness”.’

How can Agnes be imprisoned for helping women fulfil their human rights? Let’s hope this judgment shames the Hungarian government into releasing her.

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