Report: Gynecologist Imprisoned For Assisting With Home Births

Dr. Agnes Gereb was imprisoned for championing home births, supporters say

This is a little far afield but worth checking out:

The Guardian (U.K) reports that Hungarian authorities have imprisoned gynecologist and midwife Agnes Gereb for helping women give birth at home (Ricki Lake, where are you??). The Oct. 22 article begins:

Twenty minutes after the expectant mother went into labour, the police were knocking at the door. While mother and child were taken to hospital and treated well, the midwife at the birthing centre was thrown in jail. Dr Agnes Gereb is now being kept in maximum security conditions in a Budapest prison, facing a five-year prison sentence.

Gereb, founder of the Napvilág birthing centre, is a highly experienced gynaecologist, midwife and internationally recognised home birth expert. She has successfully helped deliver 3,500 babies at home. But her reputation means nothing to the authorities in Hungary, a country that has, campaigners say, relentlessly pushed to criminalise home births and make hospital deliveries compulsory…

Held for a further week without charge, (Gereb) finally appeared in an open court on 12 October, shackled in leg chains and handcuffs, accused of negligent malpractice. She also faces several other charges, including one for manslaughter relating to an earlier home birth when a baby died after a difficult labour.

Supporters from around the world have organized a “Free Agnes Gereb” campaign on two Facebook pages, here and here, and other sites, and are petitioning authorities to release her from prison.

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  • Mcdoulgham

    She was not imprisoned for what the article suggests, but for the death of a baby while she was conducting the delivery! Huge difference! She has repeatedly violated health and safety regulation as well. I am not saying it is not a great thing to give birth at home, but as physician  you have to abide the law, just as anyone else. By the way, health and safety regulations are standard in the EU, so she would have been arrested in the UK or anywhere else.

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  • David Tomlinson

    From a different David. We have three children all born in a UK hospital between 1990 and 1996. What intrigued me during that period was how the attitude to home birthing from even the most senior and conservative midwives changed. One was dead against the whole concept in 1990, but had become completely converted several years later when she was nearing retirement. I myself was supposed to be born at home in the early 50s., but my dad and mum “bottled” it at the 11th hour and she was whisked off to hospital! The important thing is surely to have a plan B ie pregnancy and labour are not illnesses, but a woman in labour may suddenly become very unwell and mother and unborn child are then greatly at risk. Delay can then be fatal and not every expectant mother wishes to face up to this possibility before it is too late. However, none of this can justify a situation where an EC country can criminalise such an attitude. It is paternalism gone mad. EU enlargement makes it imperative that the European Court of Human Rights is given greater powers to pull some of these medieval East European States into the 21st century.

  • Decadefour

    This is outrageous. This woman’s job is to bring life into the world. Not all law are just. Her disobedience sheds light on laws that are contrary to women’s health. I am an American women living in Hungary. My husband and I thought we would start a family during our time here. When I read things like this it reminds me that women in the USA have the benefit of so much more progress regarding their rights. I am both outraged, saddened and scared. Now I am considering flying back home because I am afraid of how my birth would be handled in a hospital here or even by the legal system. I am grateful I have the means to do so.

  • David

    Assisting With Home Births is not a bad thing i think.She is showing her kindness only.But breaking of law is also a bad thing.All 15 should be prisoned if they are breaking laws.


    • Decadefour

      Do you have children?

  • Joe Yu

    I’m a retired general surgeon in Merrimack Valley who was delivered by a midwife in the old country. So are the rest of living animals in the world except for some human in the self-proclaimed “civilized societies”. How sad!