Dear ICM Board,
I dare to address you as the head of an international professional organisation in name of the Czech Confederation of Midwives and the ICM 2014 Congress Organisational Committee.
We are deeply concerned about current situation in Hungary regarding the free choice for pregnant and birthing women and attitude to autonomy of midwifery profession.
On 5.10.2010 Hungarian midwife, Agnes Gereb has been taken into custody. For more then 2 weeks she has been refused any contact with her family and no process has been lead.
Agnes has been accused of endangering life of mother and her newborn baby, letting a woman who had addressed her give birth in her birth house. Although Agnes had told the woman that her condition was not suitable for out of hospital birth, the birth was too fast and the baby was born before the called for ambulance came. The baby had problems with breathing and Agnes resuscitated him till the ambulance has arrived. The ambulance which arrived brought the police along. Mother and baby were taken to the hospital and Agnes was taken in handcuffs into custody.
The problem is that there is no clear information about the case clearly indicating that Agnes would make a crime. The information differs. The only person who knows the details of this case is Agnes, who has not been heard yet (but still kept in the custody) and some parents who have been witnesses as there has been a prenatal class just held. These parents report, that the ambulance had been waiting outside the birth house for the police and only after the arrival of the police, both went in.
We are very concerned about this case especially with the way this midwife is treated and the way the case is spread in public by media.
Hungary is a member country of European Union, the midwifery profession should be regulated on the same basis as is done in other European countries. It should be implemented in accordance with the International Definition of Midwife, but it is not the case. We experience in the whole East European region that the midwives are limited in their competencies and also in our country punished for their work. But in Hungary this went too far and the situation is more than serious. It should never happen in a democratic country that a person is put into custody and kept there without being heard and asked for explanation of his or her deeds. This is Agnes Gereb case.
We ask ICM Board to address the Hungarian Ministry of Health and question lawfulness of the steps done against Agnes Gereb.
Thank you for understanding
Vice president of the Czech Association of Midwives
P.S. Agnes Gereb is a gyn.-obstetrician by original profession. The Hungarian gyn.-obs. society had taken her diploma away from her, as she assisted women at homebirth. This is considered non-lege artis procedure (not recommended by the professional organisation) by the Hungarian gyn.-obs. society. She then studied midwifery and got a diploma as a midwife. There are 3 midwifery organisations in Hungary. One - uniting homebirth midwives with only few members as only few midwives offer this service to women in Hungary. Second one – found by Agnes – with about 40 to 60 members, who mostly work in hospital, but support normal birth. Their attitude to homebirth is ambivalent in these days. And the third one. Almost all midwives who work in hospital are members of this association. This organisation has about 2000 midwives. This organisation considers homebirth a hazard and homebirth midwives irresponsible. As Agnes continued in assisting homebirth, the main Hungarian midwifery organisation refused to register her. A small group of midwives visited me on Friday 29.10.10 I got this information from them. They themselves did not know, which organisation is a member of ICM. They also did not know exactly, whether the homebirth alliance (the smallest organisation) is already officially registered, as at least 11 members are demanded for official registration of an organisation.