The Government of Hungary has imposed by decree the obligation to listen to the heartbeat of the fetus before aborting, a requirement that from now on all women who wish to interrupt their pregnancy must comply with.
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The measure comes into force next Friday, according to the decree, published on the night of Monday to Tuesday in the Official Gazette and signed by the Minister of the Interior, Sándor Pintér, which determines that before having an abortion, the woman must present a document that certifies that it has received information on the vital signs of the fetus.
To do this, doctors must “provide the pregnant woman with an indication of the vital signs of the fetus, in a clearly identifiable way,” reads the decree.
Both independent media, such as the digital newspaper 24.hu, and those close to the government of ultra-nationalist Viktor Orbán (such as Hirtv.hu), assure that with the expression “vital signs”, the Government refers to the heartbeat.
The current law, in force since 1992, determines that between weeks 12 and 24 of gestation, women can freely opt for abortion, with no requirements other than their own decision.
In exceptional cases, generally for medical reasons, when there is a diagnosis of a pathology in the fetus that is incompatible with life or the life of the mother is in danger, abortion is also possible later in the pregnancy.
The leftist Democratic Coalition party has asked in a statement that the government clarify whether or not it is preparing to modify the abortion rules. For her part, the deputy Dóra Dúró of the extreme right party Our Homeland expressed satisfaction with the new measure. “The Government has adapted the proposal of Our Homeland”, taking a step towards “the defense of all fetuses from conception”, Duró has written on her Facebook account.
Until now, the government of Orbán’s conservative Fidesz party, which holds an overwhelming majority in Parliament, had assured that it had no plans to limit the right to abortion. However, the country’s president, Katalin Novák, close to Orbán, who took power last May, promised in her election campaign that she would support those who “protect life from gestation”.
In Hungary, a country of 9.7 million people, 21,907 abortions and 93,000 births were recorded in all of last year, according to data from the Statistics Office.