European & International News

Hungary - Guilt tripping today, ban on abortions tomorrow?

[Brussels, 10 May 2011] Hungarian NGOs, including the Hungarian Women’s Lobby, have been lobbying and demonstrating in opposition to moves by the government against abortion. Below is a press release from the Hungarian Women’s Lobby’s partner organisation, the Association of People Opposing Patriarchy (Patent).

Patent Press Release, 10 May 2011

The Association of People Opposing Patriarchy (Patent), a Hungarian NGO working in the field of women’s rights is outraged at the plan of the Hungarian government to conduct an anti-abortion campaign that aims at women’s conscience and agitates through inducing guilt. “Miklós Soltész state secretary made it clear that the government wants to follow the example of Poland in this regard, which has one of the strictest abortion legislations in Europe,” said Dr. Júlia Spronz the leading lawyer of Patent Association about political realities. “The government goes against the will of 71% of Hungarians who are against any restrictions on the current abortion law,” she added.

But Patent Association is opposed to a more severe restriction on abortion and guilt tripping campaigning as a matter of principle too. The planned campaign calls attention to the importance of the life of the foetus and puts forward adoption as an alternative to abortion. “We believe it is unethical to portray foetuses as persons in a campaign to arouse guilt in women who want to exercise self-determination over their bodies. Every woman, just as men, has the right to decide what should or should not happen to her body and it is not ethical to influence her in exercising that right by inducing guilt” said Dr. Spronz. “Adoption is not an alternative to abortion, since pregnancy results in health risks and bodily changes, and the woman has the right to avoid these. In addition, many women are attached to their new-born babies in a way that makes adoption impossible emotionally.”

Such biased, value-laden campaigns violate women’s right to balanced information. “They portray the foetus as a living person, when science cannot determine this issue and so it is a question of personal world views and subjective decisions at which point, between the fertilized egg, which clearly does not behave as a person, and a newborn baby, which clearly does, one believes the foetus ceases to be the woman’s body part, and the person comes about” – said Mr. Gábor Kuszing of Patent Association about the spectrum of views on abortion. “Besides, they are silent about a number of facts: that foetuses do not feel pain before the 28th week, and that although they move, these are the results of spinal reflexes and not the workings of the human consciousness. As the status of the foetus as a person is debated but everybody knows that the woman is a person, Patent Association believes that a state that has any regard for human rights must not prefer foetal rights over the woman’s rights.”

“They could conduct information campaigns in schools, give teenagers free condoms, make contraception pills free of charge,” said Dr. Spronz about more positive ways to reduce abortions. “Men’s responsible sexual behaviour should also be promoted, as you almost have to fight men to put on a condom. Behind many unwanted pregnancies, one finds a man who would not take responsibility for contraception. This is one more reason why it is unethical to further burden the woman with guilt.”

Restricting abortion is not a solution to anything. “According to the UN’s World Health Organisation (WHO) nowhere in the world has the number of women using abortion decreased as a result of restriction, only illegal abortions, which often endanger women’s health and life, and abortion tourism has grown. Furthermore, the WHO says that a ban on abortion does not result in population growth,” said Mr. Kuszing.

Therefore the Patent Association is requesting the government to cancel its plan to campaign against abortion through means that are guilt tripping and meant for effect, to influence the views of society.

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