Hungarian doctors and opposition protest against ‘cruel’ change in abortion rules

BUDAPEST, September 14 (Reuters) – Hungarian doctors and some opposition parties protested on Wednesday against an impending change in abortion rules that will require pregnant women to prove they have seen a definite sign of life from the fetus before requesting intervention.

Re-elected in April, nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban faces his toughest term since the landslide of 2010 with the forint at its lowest, energy costs rising and European Union funds in the pipeline. limbo amid a dispute over democratic standards. Read more

Orban, whose Fidesz party changed the definition of family in the constitution to allow an effective ban on adoption by same-sex couples, is also engaged in a legal battle with the EU executive over a law restricting LGBTQ+ rights. Read more

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Home Secretary Sandor Pinter introduced an amendment to abortion rules this week requiring pregnant women to present proof from their healthcare provider of a definitive sign of life, widely interpreted as the fact to hear the fetal heartbeat.

The changes were made by government decree and are expected to come into force on Thursday.

The Hungarian Medical Chamber said the largely procedural changes did not run counter to its ethical code based on the protection of life.

However, he said Orban’s government should have launched social dialogue before implementing them, a practice often criticized by various parts of society and business groups facing similar abrupt changes in key legislation. .

The opposition Jobbik party welcomed what it called a pro-life orientation to the changes, but also criticized the lack of consultation before the proposal was put forward.

The liberal opposition Parbeszed party said the changes were unacceptable and urged the interior minister to withdraw the decree.

“This amendment not only restricts the right of pregnant women to terminate their pregnancies, but it creates an extremely onerous and unnecessarily cruel situation for everyone involved as well as for doctors,” he said in a statement.

Some political analysts said the move could be aimed at clipping the wings of the far-right Our Fatherland party, which was elected to parliament in April and initially campaigned for the changes.

“This could be a good tool to mobilize more conservative voters or to prevent excessive gains for Our Fatherland at the expense of Fidesz,” said political scientist Attila Tibor Nagy.

Women’s rights group Patent has called for a rally against the changes for the end of September.

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Reporting by Anita Komuves and Gergely Szakacs; Editing by Bernadette Baum

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Laura T. Thrasher