I am writing writing to confirm the very good news that Ágnes received a pardon from the Hungarian President János Áder on Thursday, which cancelled the 2 year prison sentence she was facing. Ágnes is both delighted andrelieved with this development and her public statement on the matter is included below.
The President of Hungary Dr János Áder has accepted the plea for clemency of the internationally-acclaimed independent midwife/ obstetrician and gynaecologist Dr Ágnes Geréb, and cancelled the prison sentence against her.
I am deeply grateful to all those who have stood by me, who with their actions and encouragement have helped me through this period of trial and hardship - said the 66 year old health professional. This act of clemency is about more than me. It is an acknowledgement of liberty in giving birth. It is a recognition by the state that the rights of women to make decisions about the circumstances of their children’s birth must be acknowledged.
Dr Geréb has made the freedom of childbirth the centre of her life’s work. Part of this work was her contribution to legislation that empowers the autonomy of women in childbirth.
One result of her four decades of work is that the presence of fathers at childbirth, once forbidden, is now commonplace. More importantly, her work resulted in legislation which legalised homebirth in Hungary. This not only expanded the rights of birthing women, but improved hospital practices as well. Dr Geréb has made a significant and lasting impact on Hungarian society by introducing undisturbed birth and fighting for the rights of women and their babies.
Dear President Janos Ader,
We the undersigned group of international maternal health, legal and human rights experts and activists are writing in connection with the clemency request currently under consideration by you with regard to Dr. Agnes Gereb. With this letter we wish to highlight our strongest possible support for Dr. Gereb's clemency request as she is internationally recognised as a person of the highest calibre and as a professional of the highest stature.
We believe this is the time to bring some level of closure and healing to the situation of Dr. Gereb where on-going criminal court proceedings against her have now been active for some 10 years. We are aware that the adverse birth incidents of the type involving Dr. Gereb, when they have arisen in Hungarian hospital settings, have not caused the maternity doctors concerned to be the subject of criminal investigation. This unequal and discriminatory mis-treatment of Dr. Gereb, by comparison to the usual non-punitive review of cases that her hospital peers have undergone, can now be lessened by your positive intervention and compassion.
According to previous information, the doctor had been instructed to start her prison sentence on the 6th of March, but the Ministry of Justice has delayed that deadline until the country's President makes his decision.
The gynecologist, obstetrician and midwife dr. Ágnes Geréb and her family would like to take this opportunity to offer their thanks for the many years of support, both in Hungary and internationally, that they have received from those committed to the cause of undisturbed birth.
The Royal Dutch Organisation of Midwives (KNOV), in cooperation with our Dutch obstericians would like to endorse the statement of ICM and FIGO in which they support the application for clemency of Agnes Gereb, in a letter to the President.
Elisabeth Geisel, ENCA coordinator sent an email letter to President Janos Ader on February 19, 2018.
Dr. Gereb has worked tirelessly to improve maternity care in Hungary. She is an exemplary citizen, a dedicated professional, and an internationally respected midwife and doctor. We believe that excessive punishment is not the way forward, and hope that reconciliation and rehabilitation would be considered as a key to a positive resolution.
The full letter can be read follow the link below.
As of today it is official: Dr. Ágnes Geréb, gynaecologist/midwife and psychologist will have to start her prison sentence soon, on 6 March 2018. Upon receiving the notice, the doctor immediately submitted a request for the postponement of her prison sentence until her plea for clemency is decided. The next few days will be crucial in the doctor’s case: her plea for clemency will be decided by Dr János Áder, President of Hungary, and minister of justice Dr László Trócsányi. It is at their discretion whether the doctor who has fought for the right to homebirth and women’s rights would have to begin the prison sentence or will be granted clemency.
Jette Aaroe Clausen and Ole Olsen representing the Bachelor’s Degree Programme in Midwifery, Department of Nutrition and Midwifery, Faculty of Health and Technology at Metropolitan University College, from Copenhagen, Denmark wrote the following letter to the President of Hungary, Janos Ader, supporting the case of dr. Agnes Gereb.
Ágnes Geréb is a feminist hero who has revolutionised childbirth for thousands of women. What’s happening to her now is outrageous, says Rebecca Schiller on The Pool, 12.01.18
Among the fathers in the film some assisted at home birth and some at hospital birth. Their gratitude is common.
A letter to the President 10th January 2018//in Budapest, Hungary, Random thoughts /by Mary Murphy
I’ve never been one for protesting, for signing petitions, for writing letters of complaint. Yes, I can bitch and moan with the best of them, but I have this irrational fear of having my name on a list of watchables. I say irrational, because in all likelihood it’s due to nothing more than an overindulgence in Cold War books and movies and a rather fertile imagination. I have no problem writing about stuff that bothers me, or speaking up about things I think unfair, but in my mind, large crowds are at the mercy of the state police and petitions are a matter of public record. Both bring out the heebie jeebies in me. Irrational, I know.
Agnes Gereb is the pioneering Hungarian midwife and gynecologist who today needs your help. She has spent 40 years making Hungarian maternity services better, for mothers parents and babies, in hospital and at home. She champions the dignity of the birth process for all.
Unfortunately, she has also been at the forefront of receiving unfair and unequal treatment in being singled out for prosecution for birth incidents, which would not have had better outcomes in hospital. Now she faces 2 years in prison. Instead of imprisonment we hope that this will be the moment to find reconciliation and rehabilitation for her within the Hungarian medical community. It is her natural and rightful place.
The aim of the facts and figures is to be provide exact numbers to allow people to see the whole picture and understand the current environment in which the debate on home birth is taking place.
Today, the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) and the International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) wrote to Hungarian President Janos Ader concerning the situation of Dr. Gereb.
The two federations represent 1.5 million midwives and gynecologists/obstetricians worldwide. Dr. Gereb, the Hungarian midwife and obstetrician is currently facing a 2 year prison sentence and will now turn to Hungarian President Janos Ader to seek a clemency in the matter.
When expressing their support for Dr. Gereb in her application for clemency both ICM and FIGO stated that "It is our shared belief that women around the world have the right to excellent midwifery and/or obstetric care and we encourage and celebrate midwives and obstetricians who respect a woman’s right to make informed choices and decisions about her care during childbirth".
The International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) and the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) represent the internationally recognised professional organisations of midwives, obstetricians and gynecologists worldwide. Both our federations are in official relations with the World Health Organization and the United Nations.
Dr. Ágnes Geréb was working in hospital as an obstetrician-gynaecologist for 17 years. In 1977, as a trainee obstetrician, she was the first in Hungary who allowed fathers to be present in the labour ward. At that time, it was forbidden for husbands, they were not allowed to be next to their wives and experience the birth of their child. When the managing professor became aware that Dr. Ágnes Geréb allowed fathers to be present at childbirths, he expelled her from the labour ward for half a year. Later, Dr. Ágnes Geréb worked out the conditions of the admission of husbands, and managed to get them to be accepted. At the Women's Clinic in Szeged, dr. Geréb and the doctors of the neonatal ward there introduced ‘rooming in’ together, which allows newborns to stay with their mothers (a common practice in Hungary today).
TO His Excellency President János Áder, Hungary | Brasilia, January 20th 2018
We are a Non- Governmental Organization (NGO) called ReHuNa (Network for Humanization of Childbirth) based in Brazil. We have been, since 1993, acting as an important partner of Brazilian Government in the implementation of Public Policies towards the improvement of Childbirth Care in the Private and Public Health Care sectors.
We also disseminate ideas and practices of Humanization of Childbirth by the means of National and International Conferences in partnership with well-known and respected Institutions such as: Brazilian Ministry of Health, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA), among others. We are connected to innumerous Governmental Agencies in Brazil such as: the Stork Network, the Brazilian National Agency of Supplementary Health (ANS), the Brazilian Agency of Sanitary Regulation (ANVISA), and certain State and City Governments, as well as to Representative Chambers (Federal Senate and National and some State Houses of Representatives). We also have links with International Bodies which have the quality of MotherBaby Friendly Care at heart such as: the World Health Organization (WHO), the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the International MotherBaby Childbirth Organization and the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO), among others.
January 17, 2018
Dear President Janos Áder:
We, the board of Human Rights in Childbirth, write to show our concern that the important issues raised around the case of the obstetrician and midwife Agnes Geréb be addressed and resolved in her favor and to the benefit of future maternity services in Hungary.
Dear President Áder,
We write in connection with the verdict handed down in Budapest on 09 January 2018 to have our colleague, Ágnes Gereb, imprisoned for 2 years and suspended from her practice for 10 years. Ágnes Gereb came to international attention almost two decades ago for the leadership she showed and commitment to the midwifery profession to which she dedicated her life. She is an inspiring and exemplary midwife who is greatly admired internationally and in whom the informed and just authorities of Hungary ought to take immense pride. We are deeply concerned to learn that instead of honouring and celebrating the immense contribution that Ágnes Gereb has made to Hungarian maternity care and the world of midwifery, she has been mistreated and denied her fundamental rights as a professional.
Dear President Ader,
I/we are writing to you to support greater dignity and fairness in birth in Hungary.
I/We feel deeply that the woman who has contributed most, of all Hungarians to this, Dr Ágnes Geréb, was unfairly singled out for prosecution because of incidents which would not have had a better outcome in hospital. When the same outcomes arise in a hospital setting the doctors involved are investigated through an entirely different process to Dr. Gereb, which has been unfair and disadvantageous to her. Dr. Gereb's 40 year career attending some 9,000 births in hospital and at home, makes her the most experienced doctor/midwife in Hungary today.
I/we ask you, respectfully, as Head of State to do all you can to keep her out of prison, fully rehabilitate her reputation, and ensure that her vast experience, knowledge, and skills remain at the disposal of Hungarian women and families in the future. Birth directly affects 270,000 Hungarians each year (babies, mothers, and fathers), and indirectly many more.
A healthy and happy society begins with the joy of a healthy, positive and dignified birth.
Yours faithfully etc.,