Intended for healthcare professionals


Hungary requires doctors to present women with fetal vital signs before abortion

BMJ 2022; 378 doi: (Published 20 September 2022) Cite this as: BMJ 2022;378:o2260
  1. Owen Dyer
  1. Montreal

Doctors in Hungary must provide women with “a clearly identifiable indication of fetal vital signs” before carrying out any abortion, according to a decree of the government led by Viktor Orban.

The rule came into force on 15 September, only three days after the decree was announced. Doctors must sign a document verifying that they complied with the rule for every abortion.

Abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy has been legal in Hungary since 1953, with later abortions permitted if fetal defects are judged probable. The Orban government wrote a new constitution in 2011 guaranteeing that “the life of a fetus will be protected from conception,” but this week’s decree is the first move to affect patients.

Dora Duro, a legislator with the far right opposition party Our Homeland, claimed on Facebook that it was her party’s proposal that the government had adopted. The decree broke a “decades old taboo” against “pro-life moves,” she wrote. …

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