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Abortion made conditional on mothers being shown ’vital signs of life’

September 15th, 2022

Feminist activists are outraged by what they see as a measure which will humiliate and traumatize women, while a liberal author suggests the new decree will not actually make access to abortion more difficult in practice.

In a decree issued on Tuesday and effective from Thursday 15 September, Home Affairs Minister Sándor Pintér stipulated that women seeking an abortion will have to be ‘shown foetal vital signs’ (for example, listening to the foetal heartbeat) to get access to the procedure. In principle, abortion is restricted to cases where a ‘critical situation’ exists, but in practice is easily accessible on demand until the 12th week of pregnancy.

Mandiner quotes two feminist activists who sharply condemn the decree. Rita Antoni argues that women who don’t intend to submit themselves to the humiliating procedure required by the Minister of Home Affairs, will simply go to Vienna, where access to abortion is easy, albeit expensive. Those who can’t afford that will resort to illegal abortions, she predicts, with the obvious health risks that entails.

In an angry reaction on Facebook, writer and Klub Rádió host Vera Mérő, another feminist author quoted by the pro-government website exclaims: ‘get off our wombs!’. Women are human beings, she continues, ‘not dogs whose noses can be pushed into their sh.t to teach them good manners’.

On the hvg website, Viktória Serdült points out that the decree doesn’t actually specify which ‘vital signs’ must be shown to women seeking an abortion, which will make it possible for gynaecologists to circumvent the required procedure in practice. At any rate, she adds, meetings between the physician and the woman are private – and doctors will know what’s best for their patients.

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