Royal Collage of Midwives calls for release of imprisoned Hungarian midwife
Commenting on the imprisonment of Hungarian midwife Agnes Gereb, Cathy Warwick, General Secretary of the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), said: “The RCM joins professional colleagues as well as other groups from across the UK, Europe and indeed the rest of the world in registering our very strong condemnation of the treatment of Agnes Gereb. We would like to call both for the release of Dr Gereb and for the introduction of legislation in Hungary which would allow midwives to perform out of hospital births.
“Agnes Gereb is a woman who has been attempting to work in the interests of women. Her treatment at the hands of the authorities is disproportionate and inhumane. She has been arrested, imprisoned and mistreated. It is grossly unjust that any woman should be treated in such a way – shackled and handcuffed and unable to see her family for more than an absolutely minimal time over a period of forty four days. The RCM along with our sister organisation the Hungarian Midwives Association calls for her release and fair treatment.
“In addition the RCM believes it is every woman’s right to choose where and how they will give birth to their baby. European-wide regulation should make it legal for midwives to work in any place that women choose to give birth. Women are aware that there is strong evidence to support out of hospital birth and in making such a choice they should not be denied the attendance of a registered midwife. The RCM calls on the Hungarian authorities to urgently address this issue.”
Here’s a sample letter you can send to the Hungarian embassy in your country. To maximise the impact, put it in your own words.
I am writing to protest in the strongest possible terms at the imprisonment since 8 October 2010 of Dr Agnes Gereb in a maximum security prison, and the recent extension of this term for a further 60 days. I would like to add my voice to the many calling for Agnes’ immediate release.
Dr Gereb is a renowned doctor and midwife, respected worldwide for her work on behalf of pregnant women. She has championed the right of women to choose how they give birth and has herself attended many thousands of successful home births. I understand that she has been charged with negligent malpractice and is currently detained in a maximum security prison where she has been inhumanely treated. She recently appeared in court shackled and bleeding from a wound caused by her restraints and has been subjected to strip searches.
To imprison a doctor and midwife in this way is frankly disgraceful in an EU member state and is unacceptable in any civilised country which claims to respect human rights and the rule of law.
Please make my concerns known to the Hungarian government. For your information, I shall also be contacting my MP and my MEP to take up this case.
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Your report (Handcuffed, a midwife is led into court, 23 October is a shocking indictment of the Hungarian maternity system. Agnes Gereb, a qualified obstetrician, had her own third child at home just before she held the first home birth conference in Hungary about 20 years ago. In 2003 a group of us who attended and spoke at the second home birth conference she organised, including Dr Marsden Wagner, previously director of maternal and child health for the European region of the WHO. After the conference, we met with Hungarian ministry of health officials and senior obstetricians, who did not accept the evidence that home birth was a safe option for healthy women with an uncomplicated pregnancy. Continue reading
Amelia Hill, guardian.co.uk, Friday 22 October 2010
Gynaecologist faces five years in Hungarian prison, prompting protests over authorities’ hardline childbirth policy
Twenty minutes after the expectant mother went into labour, the police were knocking at the door. While mother and child were taken to hospital and treated well, the midwife at the birthing centre was thrown in jail. Dr Agnes Gereb is now being kept in maximum security conditions in a Budapest prison, facing a five-year prison sentence.
Gereb, founder of the Napvilág birthing centre, is a highly experienced gynaecologist, midwife and internationally recognised home birth expert. She has successfully helped deliver 3,500 babies at home. But her reputation means nothing to the authorities in Hungary, a country that has, campaigners say, relentlessly pushed to criminalise home births and make hospital deliveries compulsory.