Hungarian abortion law changes

On 15 September, a decree of the Minister of the Interior will enter into force, stipulating that before the termination of pregnancy, the mother must also present a report issued by an obstetrician-gynaecologist confirming that the pregnant woman listened to her baby’s heartbeat before the termination.

The application form for termination of pregnancy has been changed, and the applicant must now also present a report stating that the pregnant woman has been presented with a clearly identifiable indication of the fetal vital functions by the health care provider, according to the latest decree of the Minister of Interior published in the Hungarian Gazette, which will enter into force on 15 September.

Listening to the heartbeat before an abortion has long been a topic of public debate in Hungary, with Dóra Dúró, then a right-wing MEP, proposing in 2016 that the fetal heartbeat should be mandatory before abortion. The politician submitted the proposal again in 2018 under the colours of the Our Homeland Movement.

Dóra Dúró continued to pursue the issue, and in May this year, in her speech before the agenda in the Parliament entitled “Heartbeat law: a chance for the foetus to communicate with its mother once in its life, with the right to the last word”, the Mi Hazánk MEP said that Hungary’s Fundamental Law states that the life of the foetus is protected from conception, but in practice this is just an “empty sentence”, in her opinion.

Dóra Dúró’s idea has appealed to the government from the start, judging by the reactions and feedback. The proposal has now been published in the Hungarian Gazette.

It needs a good reason

As is well known, in Hungary abortion is only possible for a specific reason. Such a reason is

  • the pregnancy is the result of a crime (sexual violence),
  • the pregnancy is dangerous for the pregnant woman’s health,
  • the foetus is likely to suffer from a serious disability or impairment,
  • the pregnant woman is in a serious crisis.
  • In general, abortion can be carried out up to 12 weeks, but there are exceptional cases where this deadline can be extended up to 24 weeks. There are even cases where it is possible to terminate the pregnancy for any length of time.