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Midwifery verdict criticised

February 13th, 2012

Left-liberal observers are extremely critical of the verdict of the Budapest Appeal Court sentencing “the apostle of midwifery in Hungary” to two years in prison.

The editorial of Magyar Narancs remarks that the public still regards “peaceful birth” as something similar to witchcraft. Otherwise, the editor of the weekly thinks, the court could not have taken such a harsh decision.

The court of appeals of Budapest on Friday sentenced home-birth midwife and gynaecologist Ágnes Geréb to two years imprisonment for professional negligence causing death on one account and a permanent disability in another.

The court augmented a preliminary sentence by depriving Geréb of the possibility of release on probation after the first year and increased a five-year ban on assisting births to ten years. Geréb, who was sentenced in the first instance last March appealed for clemency to President Pal Schmitt.

Rules on homebirths were liberalised in 2011, but activists claim that midwives need to fulfil too severe conditions before getting a licence.

Magyar Narancs deplores the humiliating conditions dr Geréb was subjected to upon her arrest and criticises the court for refusing to hear international homebirth experts. The liberal weekly remarks that dr Geréb accepted the sentence with „a smile worthy of a Joan of Arc on her face”.

TASZ, the Society for Liberties, a human rights ngo, accuses the courts of applying double standards when judging birth accidents. On its home page TASZ complains that gynaecologists assisting births in hospitals are only very rarely sent to the dock, and get usually acquitted,  while midwives are immediately prosecuted whenever a “complication happens”.

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