More than 1,000 Hungarians demonstrated on Wednesday against a change in abortion rules that came into force on September 15, which women’s rights groups say would ‘humiliate’ and torment women while having no effect on the number of abortions.
Under rules changed by Conservative Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s government, pregnant women must provide proof from their healthcare provider of a definitive sign of life, widely interpreted as the heartbeat of a fetus, before to request intervention.
Current rules allow Hungarian women to seek an abortion in cases of rape, health risks to the mother due to pregnancy, severe disability of the unborn child, or in the event of a serious personal crisis.
The government did not provide a reason for the change and denied it would amount to tougher rules. Some political analysts said it could be aimed at winning votes for Orbán’s Fidesz party from the far-right Our Homeland party, which won seats in parliament for the first time in April and campaigned for the changes. abortion rules.
“Although the government claims to be ‘pro-life,’ these measures do not protect a single life: the real purpose of restricting stealth is to humiliate women and exert control over women’s lives,” organizers said in a statement.
They urged Orbán’s government to provide safe living conditions for pregnant women and to improve accessibility to contraception.
The demonstrators, some of whom carried signs saying “My body, my life, my decision” or “Free contraception for all”, gathered in front of the Hungarian parliament and planned to march towards the Interior Ministry, which drew up the reforms.
“I think it’s a really bad requirement because having an abortion in itself is…a hugely traumatic experience,” said Laura Fekete, 22, a student, referring to the change which means women must actually have heard the fetal heartbeat. .
These protests took place as part of the annual celebration of International Safe Abortion Day, an event that began with a campaign to decriminalize abortion in Latin America.
On Wednesday, pro-choice protests also took place in Italy, which on September 25 elected a far-right, broadly anti-abortion bloc that will soon form a government.