Hard Labour in Hungary
A look at the growing criminalisation of homebirth midwives and Hungary”s controversial policies.
Filmmaker: Julie Heathcote
Producer: Emma Wakefield
Being a homebirth midwife in Hungary is a dangerous occupation, as the case of obstetrician Agnes Gereb shows. Despite having delivered several thousand babies, Gereb is currently on trial.
This film examines the growing criminalisation of homebirth midwives and explores the underlying issues behind Hungary’s controversial conservative policies: Are they driven by money, control of women by the medical profession – or both?
Those against home births point to high survival rates for women delivering in hospital, but behind these figures lie very high levels of medical intervention, C-section rates and increasingly medicalised labour.
On March 24, 2011 Agnes Gereb was found guilty of medical negligence in two separate home births, including one in which a baby died. She will have to spend at least a year behind bars before parole and has also been banned from practising both as an obstetrician and a midwife for five years.
In February 2012, Dr Gereb lost her appeal against her two-year prison sentence. She was banned from working as a midwife for 10 years, a doubling of the initial court ruling. She remained under house arrest and appealed to the new president of Hungary, Janos Ader, for a full pardon. Agnes Kiraly, another person mentioned in the film, was found guilty of negligence and she was fined heavily. The fine has been paid now.
On February 21, 2014, Agnes Gereb was released from house arrest by the court of appeal in Hungary. She had been held under house arrest for three years and four months. Agnes still has a 2012 two-year prison sentence set against her, which she appealed before the president of Hungary, who has publically agreed to review it once the other court cases against her are finalised. Agnes’s movements around her country are still restricted and she is not allowed to advise or consult with pregnant women.