From Thursday, all pregnant women in Hungary who want an abortion must first listen to the heartbeat of their fetus before going through with the procedure, according to an announcement from Minister of the Interior Sándor Pintér, who is also responsible for healthcare and education in Hungary.
“The presented medical findings must record that the healthcare provider presented the factor indicating the vital functions of the fetus to the pregnant woman in a clearly identifiable manner,” said the minister. He said that the new ministerial decree requiring pregnant women to listen to the baby’s heartbeat was not a new law but simply a continuation of the 1992 abortion law, which has not been changed since it was passed.
The regulation requirement will be included in all applications for performing an abortion starting on Sept. 15, according to Hungarian newspaper Magyar Nemzet.
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Several Christian-conservative organizations, such as CitizenGO and the Szent István Institute, welcomed the ministerial decree on the presentation of the fetal heartbeat to mothers.
Tímea Szabó, the co-chair of green party Párbeszéd, said he believes that this step by the ruling party could be the beginning of an abortion ban, and therefore demands the immediate withdrawal of the measure.
Hungary has long pushed to raise the birthrate of its country without relying on mass immigration, and part of that strategy has been trying to not only reduce abortions but also provide financial and societal incentives for couples to have children, including more access to daycare, better parental leave, and financial bonuses for buying a house and having more than one child.
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While serving as family minister of Hungary, the country’s current president, Katalin Novák, celebrated huge progress on pro-family policies in 2020 by saying: “The recent demographic figures speak for themselves; the number of marriages is at a 40-year high, and the fertility rate is at a 20-year high, while the number of divorces hasn’t been as low as last year in the last six decades,” she said. Novák added that the country has favored policies that grow the country’s population without relying on the mass migration seen in many other European countries, which has been a priority for Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.
“In all of Europe there are fewer and fewer children, and the answer of the West to this is migration,” said Orbán in 2018. “They want as many migrants to enter as there are missing kids so that the numbers will add up. We Hungarians have a different way of thinking. Instead of just numbers, we want Hungarian children. Migration for us is surrender.”
In Hungary, abortion is allowed until the 12th week of pregnancy under certain conditions, including the pregnancy endangering the life of the mother, if the fetus has a high risk of being born malformed, the pregnancy resulted from rape, and if the woman is in a severe crisis. Certain allowances also push the abortion limit to the 18th week of the pregnancy.