Hungarian women looking to get an abortion in their country will be forced to listen to the foetus’ heartbeat before being allowed to undergo the procedure. This move comes as Hungary—like many others around the world—tightens its abortion laws.
From today, Thursday 15 September, onwards, healthcare providers will be legally required to provide pregnant women with “a clearly identifiable indication of foetal vital signs” before proceeding with an abortion.
In a recent statement, Hungary’s Interior Minister said that “nearly two-thirds of Hungarians associate the beginning of a child’s life with the first heartbeat.” It further stated that modern equipment is able to detect heartbeats early in pregnancy in order to provide “more comprehensive information for pregnant women.”
What this truly means is, just like we’ve seen in the US, the government has knowingly taken a very alarming step back in regard to women’s rights—as if it wasn’t already hard enough for women looking to get an abortion.
Aron Demeter, from Amnesty International Hungary, told Sky News, “The only ‘achievement’ of this amendment will be that people trying to access abortion will be more traumatised and more stressed.”
Demeter also revealed that the organisation was calling for the repeal of the amendment, adding: “It is not about giving information to women to make informed decisions, but rather to put pressure on them not to access abortion, which is definitely a violation of their human rights.”
Dóra Dúró—a Hungarian politician and former spokesperson of the far-right nationalist political party, Our Home Movement—took credit for the new law, stating on Facebook that the government had adopted her party’s proposal.
“This is the first pro-life move since the regulation of abortion in 1956, breaking a decades-old taboo,” she wrote on the social media platform.
Despite its nationalist government, which portrays itself as a champion of traditional family values, Hungary has previously had relatively liberal abortion laws which barely changed ever since the procedure was made legal during the country’s socialist period in 1953.
However, although it has not taken any steps other than this one so far, the Hungarian government, led by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, has enshrined that “the life of a foetus will be protected from conception” in its 2011 constitution.
As first noted by Sky News, significant tax breaks and subsidies for families that have multiple children have also been offered in an attempt to boost the country’s declining fertility rate, which might explain where the recent controversial decree has come from.