Peaceful Demonstration for Home Birth

by Admin on October 6, 2010

As you may have heard, Hungary’s senior home birth midwife, Ágnes Geréb, was arrested yesterday and taken into custody, while the people attending her home birth course were detained and questioned.

Home birth in Hungary has had a contested legal history. As recently as 1984, it was still an accepted medical practice, and somewhere in the past 20 years, it has become completely demonized, to the point where a midwife can be arrested for attending births at home. The home birth movement in Hungary has been demanding the creation of laws to regulate the work of home birth midwives, but this issue has been continually swept aside by all governments and health ministers. The situation has escalated to the point where now the police is dispatched along with the ambulance when medical assistance is called to a home birth, or when a home birth is transferred to a hospital.

Despite this hostile legal climate, a few intrepid midwives have been continuing to offer their services, knowing full well the risk of “being caught.” And Ágnes Geréb has taken on the public fight for home birth in Hungary. She has been threatened and her medical license (she is an obstetrician) has been stripped from her and then returned to her several times over. She has faced charges of practicing medicine without a license, reckless endangerment, and is even facing charges of manslaughter associated with the death of a six-month-old (!) baby. She has attended the births of over 2000 babies at home, and her mortality rate is well below those of hospitals. Her court trial has been fraught with “irregularities” with key parts of testimony mysteriously disappearing.

It has become increasingly obvious that the “establishment” as such wants to make home birth in Hungary impossible, and wants to make an example of Ágnes Geréb in particular.

Those of you who have given birth in other countries know that in many places, such as the UK, the US, Holland, Germany, and even in our neighboring Austria, home birth is regulated and accepted and even preferred and paid for by the national health care system. No home birth midwife would be arrested just for providing her services or making timely transfers to a hospital when necessary.

The situation in Hungary is untenable. It is a violation of women’s human rights to deprive them of the right to choose where and with whom they wish to give birth.

Join us in a peaceful demonstration TODAY at 4:30 pm at Arany János utca 6-8. in front of the Health Ministry. Let the Hungarian government know that you support women’s right to choose where and with whom to give birth!

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

hélène vadeboncoeur October 6, 2010 at 3:35 pm

Hi
This reminds me of what was happening in Canada in the 80s. Is there a way to organize information so that those of us outside of Hungaria can manifest their opposition to what is happening regarding home birth in your country ? like sending where we can write (email) to the Hungarian government ? I learned what is happening (arrest of a midwife) through the CIMS International list
Thanks
Hélène Vadeboncoeur, Ph.D, childbirth researcher, Canada

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Elizabeth Allemann, MD October 7, 2010 at 12:45 am

As a family physician who has attended home births for 20 years in Missouri, USA, I send my heartfelt support to Dr. Gereb. Her courage and life of service are an inspiration.

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JP MacCallum October 7, 2010 at 2:33 pm

My wife and I were fortunate to have an amazing home birth experience in Hungary last year. Every woman (family) should have the choice to deliver with a midwife or in a hospital. Birth is not a disease that needs treatment but rather a natural process that needs professional guidance in a positive environment. It is long overdue for Hungary to follow in the footsteps of some very developed countries and realize that charging a qualified midwife like this is a crime itself.

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Ulrike Gritsch October 7, 2010 at 7:15 pm

I could not join you at the demonstration, but I fully support your concern.

All the best
Ulrike Gritsch, Innsbruck

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G Lewis October 7, 2010 at 8:13 pm

I am a mother of three, born at home in England, and now resident in New Zealand, where home birth is also legal and very well established in the community. I am sending you my support for your fight and especially Dr Gereb – your courage and service to women is an inspiration.

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Kerstin October 8, 2010 at 1:26 pm

All I can say to this article, is to cite it once again:

“The situation in Hungary is untenable. It is a violation of women’s human rights to deprive them of the right to choose where and with whom they wish to give birth.”

My fully support and all the best for Dr. Gereb!

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Semmelweise October 9, 2010 at 3:05 pm

Reading this makes me so sad and angry. Homebirth is a human right and serious, trained midwifes (and doctors!) like Dr. Gereb are so important for women’s and baby’s health!

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Denise Hynd October 14, 2010 at 5:01 am

Sorry I do not have a web page or blog but have posted your news on my Face book page.
I am an Australian midwife working in New Zealand where midwives are the main carers for women all through their pregnancy labour, birth & upto 6 weeks! All maternity care is funded by the government including the choice of homebirth which has grown from less than 1% in 1990 to 6% presently!
If you have an email adress for your minister of Health or an online petition please let us know and we can try to get lots of support!!
Homebirth in Australia is going through a hard time – needing medical support which is not very commmon rather the political bodies of medicine in Australia have a campign saying it is dangerous! Unlike in New Zealand there is also no legalised right to informed choice/consent or refusal to medical treatment!!
In Solidarity
Denise Hynd

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Jean Mowery October 15, 2010 at 5:08 pm

I am & will continue to pray for the safety of Dr. Gereb and for the future of her midwife practice. God bless her for being so brave and taking on the “establishment”, when in this situation they are clearly taking the wrong course.

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Valérie L. October 22, 2010 at 3:35 pm

I am a midwife from Québec and attending homebirth for several years. The battle against medical and political lobby has been harsch… but now, the women of our canadian province have the right to give birth were ever they wish, at home, in a birth center (Maison de naissance) or in a hospital, helped by their midwife.
Solidarity, woman-midwife united forces, internationally, has made it possible in Québec. And these same forces will make it possible all over the world.
The right to chose for the women their families, and the recognition of the deep values and advantages of homebirth, in a safe environment, this is what should guide us!

All my support to Dr. Geréb and to the families supporting her and their rights!

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Martina K. October 26, 2010 at 9:57 pm

Reading this makes me so sad. Every woman should have the right to deside for a Homebirth. It`s a human right! And it`s also a right to have a midwife on her side.

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Jo Peattie November 8, 2010 at 9:41 pm

I decided not to have home births with my kids. I did have a choice- unlike Hungarian women. I have lived in Hungary for over 2 years now and am still surprised and often disappointed by many of the attitudes here!

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