Hungary’s government has tightened its abortion rules, which will make the process of pursuing a termination more bureaucratic for pregnant women.
From Thursday onwards, pregnant women will have to listen to the fetus’s heartbeat before having an abortion.
Doctors will have to submit a report confirming that this has been done.
Hungary’s nationalist government recently blamed increased rates of women in higher education for lower birth rates and a shrinking economy.
In a decree issued on Monday, Hungary’s interior ministry urges gynaecologists, obstetricians, and other pre-natal healthcare providers to present pregnant women with a fetus’s vital functions in a “clearly identifiable way” from 15 September onwards.
According to medical practice, the sign of a fetus’s vital functions can be a heartbeat.
Abortion was legalized in Hungary in 1953, and enshrined again, though with slightly more restrictive language, in 1992 following the demise of the Soviet Union and its influence in Budapest.
In 2012, Hungary adopted a new constitution that said “the life of the fetus is protected from conception,” though it stopped short of outlawing the procedure.