With the enactment of a new order by Hungary’s far-right Prime Minister Viktor Orban, which will take effect on Thursday, the country’s abortion regulations are about to undergo a significant change. The new laws require women seeking an abortion to ‘listen to the heartbeat’ of the unborn child before proceeding with the procedure. The interior ministry issued a statement that said, ‘Nearly two-thirds of Hungarians link the beginning of a child’s existence with the first pulse,’ according to Reuters.
Previously, the first 12 weeks (or roughly three months) of the pregnancy were considered the legal window for abortion in Hungary. There haven’t been many modifications made to it since it was enacted back in 1992. 2010 brought quite a significant change, nevertheless. When Orban came to power, the government immediately demonstrated a strong shift toward ‘traditional family values’ in the nation and put various initiatives in place to increase the birthrate, which was already declining.
The abortion legislation hasn’t changed, though, up to this point. With this decision, Hungary is also aiming for policies that are similar to those implemented in a few US states, such as Kentucky and Texas, where it is required for women to hear the ‘foetal heartbeat’ before having an abortion.
Women’s rights groups all around Hungary fiercely opposed the order. Noa Nograd from Patent, a Hungarian women’s rights organisation, told The Guardian that the new policy ‘is a continuation of the government’s anti-abortion policies, focused on increasing the birthrate’.