‘Fetal heartbeat rule’ introduced in HungaryStarting September 15, Hungarian women seeking abortion will be obliged
to listen to the fetal heartbeat before they can access the procedure,
according to a new decree issued by Sándor Pintér, the Minister of Internal
of Viktor Orbán’s right-wing government.
This is a clear win for the far-right party, Mi Hazánk, who has long been
pushing for the tightening of existing abortion legislation, which states that
terminations can be carried out in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy on medical grounds or if the
pregnant woman is in severe crisis.
According to the new legislation, women who seek abortions are obliged to present a document
issued by a gyneocologist that verifies that they had been presented “indications of the fetus’
vital functions”, what is to say that they had listened to the fetal heartbeat.
The new legislation had not been consulted by either experts or the wider public, and its only
purpose is to further humiliate women wanting to get abortions.
The Hungarian government have been reducing women’s reproductive rights for years with
similar measures: in 2012 they have banned the distribution of abortion pills, while the dialation
of the cervix during the abortion surgery is done with mechanical instruments instead of much
less painful medications. The two counseling sessions that women need to attend before the
actual abortion procedure takes place often aim to humiliate women seeking abortions and
trying to convince them to continue with their pregnancies, also, in the recent years, it has
become significantly more difficult to get appointments to these consultations.
Meanwhile, the anti-choice and anti-women voices are getting louder in Hungary, often
supported by the government who is one of the founders of an international anti-abortion
coalition and elected a president who in her inauguration speech stated that life needs to be
guarded from the moment of conception.
This new legislation will not save any lives by forcing women to listen to the fetal heartbeat, but
it will humiliate women, put them under much more pressure, and it ultimately questions their
right and capability for deciding about their own lives and bodies.
We, at PATENT, stand for women’s right to be able to access safe and legal abortions, and
condemn the government’s attempts to reduce this.