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Szuleteshaz Kozhasznu Egyesulet/Birth House Association (SKE)

Budapest Hungary
September 2011

Grant Description

Many Eastern European countries have strict regulations on midwifery and homebirths; and in Hungary the government often views participation in home birthing as criminal. In every instance a midwife calls for emergency services during a delivery, the government initiates criminal proceedings against the midwife involved. In 2010, the government detained a midwife and well-known leader of the international home birth movement after she called an ambulance for a patient and charged her with negligent malpractice. As a result, previous UAF grantee, the Hungarian Birth House Association (SKE) planned a national campaign, set to launch in October 2011 on the one-year anniversary of the midwife’s detainment. This national campaign will work toward amending the existent homebirth legislation so that midwives actions’ at homebirth incidents would no longer be brought before the criminal court system and to absolve midwives currently charged. Rather than the criminal court system, SKE’s campaign proposes to amend the legislation to establish a professional medical committee to review current and any future birthing incidents. After learning from colleagues that the 11th International Meeting on Women and Health in Brussels-to be held in September-would be an ideal arena in which to gain crucial international support for the campaign, SKE requested funds to attend the convening. They planned to garner international support for the campaign by speaking at the event and networking with women’s groups from countries in the region, many of which face similar challenges.

SKE set out to protect and represent pregnant mothers, women giving birth, newborns and families, to work towards ensuring that the right to undisturbed, natural birth is accepted in law and in society, and to protect and represent healthcare professionals that offer assistance in undisturbed birth.

Impact Report

With UAF funds, SKE purchased airline tickets, accommodation and living expenses for the representative to attend the International Women’s Health Meeting in Brussels from 14th to 17th Sept. The representative pointed out that the objective of attending the Meeting was to devise additional campaign strategies in order to more heavily rely on international organizations for support in the upcoming campaign to free Agnes Gereb; and that at the conference she had the opportunity to speak to several delegates who had been involved in these types of campaigns for many years, and made contact with several prominent women’s human rights defenders working in the area of reproductive rights who said they would reference Agnes’ situation and work to raise awareness of it in the international arena. She also networked with other groups in her country who have had similar difficulties in the area of midwifery, and they have maintained contact so that they can take common action when appropriate.