Abortions in Hungary: A heartbeat against abortions

Hungary has tightened its previously liberal abortion laws. In the future, pregnant women will have to listen to the heartbeat of the embryo before an abortion.

Ebryo picture and candle lights

Threatened in many places: the right to abortion. Pro-life demo in Malta Photo: Darrin Zammit Lupi/Reuters

VIENNA taz | Heart palpitations to prevent abortions in Hungary. That is the goal of a law announced in the Official Gazette on Tuesday, which will come into force on Thursday. The liberal Hungarian abortion law had so far eluded the policy of “traditional family values” that Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has been promoting since 2010.

"Almost two-thirds of Hungarians associate the beginning of life with a heartbeat," said Interior Minister Sándor Pintér, explaining the reform. The ulterior motive is obviously that mothers decide to carry the child through the acoustic perception of life in their womb.

Abortion has been legal in Hungary since 1953. A law from 1992 regulates a time limit solution up to the 12th week. In special cases, termination of pregnancy is permitted up to the 24th week. Nothing will change at first. However, women are now required to produce a specialist medical certificate that "the factors indicative of the presence of the vital functions of the embryo have been brought to their attention in a clear manner". Similar laws have recently been passed in US states such as Texas and Kentucky decided.

In the past, women had to attend two counseling appointments at least three days apart before they could be referred to a hospital for an abortion. For Noá Nógradí from the women's rights organization Patent, the Orbán government is afraid of a complete ban on abortion Polish model back because two-thirds of Hungarians do not support tightening.

The heartbeat as evidence of vital functions is controversial among physicians

"Many small steps towards restrictions are more easily accepted," said the women's rights activist in the English daily newspaper The Guardians. Counseling sessions have recently become increasingly aggressive, which has made access to abortion noticeably more difficult.

misogyny the order of the day

At the same time, financial incentives were created that make motherhood more attractive and give women the role in a Christian family that Orbán sees as their right. Since 2019, mothers of at least four children have been exempt from income tax for life. An accompanying campaign with posters of fetuses in the amniotic sac puts moral pressure on expectant mothers.

The perception of the heartbeat as evidence of vital functions is controversial among physicians. Most experts point out that the ultrasound machine itself produces pulsating sounds.

The law was not introduced by the ruling Fidesz, but by the new far-right party Mi Hazánk (Our Homeland), which entered parliament for the first time in last April's elections. This extremist split from the centre-right Jobbik party is the only opposition party to receive widespread praise in the controlled media.

As early as August, a study by the Hungarian Court of Auditors caused astonishment, warning against "education that is too female". The control body saw psychological problems and adverse effects on boys when exposed to the influence of women. If education favors "female characteristics" such as "emotional and social maturity" and thus causes the "over-representation of women in universities", gender equality is "significantly weakened".

In a 2019 report by the Council of Europe, the country under the national-conservative government was attested to being backwards in terms of gender equality. Hungary is also the country with the lowest proportion of women in government positions in the EU.

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