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Induced abortions said to reduce later healthy births in Hungary

Translation of: Népesedéspolitikánk néhány kérdése: A Különb Utódokért Magyar Hirek 26; 10, 1973. Translated by Dr. Elizabeth Demeter Sign_______________

Some Ideas on Our Demography
A Program for Healthier Children

“Only our family can fulfill our lives and only our off-spring can make it complete” said Dr. Professor Jeno Sárkány in one of his lectures. While medical researchers try to prevent premature births and damage to the unborn baby too often physicians are asked to treat underweight and underdeveloped newborns. During the past 15 years numerous studies were carried out and extensive statistical data and family history were collected to find out the reason for the much lower number of healthy babies who were carried to full term and were born healthy with a good chance for normal development. These children create hardship and emotional traumas for their parents. Babies who were born to mothers older than 25 and who already had one or two children often weighed less than 2500 grams (and sometimes much less than that) and were physically and mentally underdeveloped. “(Különösképp a 25 esztendosnél idosebb anyák, és a harmadik, negyedik gyereküket világra hozó asszonyok szültek 2500 grammnál (jóval könnyebb) testileg, szellemileg károsodott csecsemoket.)”

The result of the professor's research: mothers who underwent induced abortions between giving births had far fewer healthy babies. Only half of the mothers who had an induced abortion between child births gave births to healthy babies. Many women behaved irresponsibly and opted to have an induced abortion before their 25th birthday although it was known for a long time that the procedure was not without danger. Complications like sterility, chronic sickness caused by induced abortion have been known for a long time. Other research collaborated Dr. Sárkány's findings. Hereditary illnesses, the mother's behavior – smoking, drinking alcohol – and mental illnesses can also cause premature babies. But these did not disprove Dr Sárkány's research results. Restricting the availability of abortions can protect mothers and their new babies' health. Proper prenatal care is, of course, also very important. The new legislation addresses these two tasks.

Health protection

The purpose of restricting access to induced abortions is not to suddenly increase the number of births and achieve an improved demographic record. We know from statistics around the world that reducing abortions will not result in a higher birth rate. Our goal is to protect the mothers' health so they can give births to healthy babies. Every year we would like to see more and more women who never have an induced abortion.

We would like to reduce induced abortions not through restrictions but with the increased use of contraception. Years ago when we removed the prohibition to abortion we did not have sufficient supply of birth control pills and the quality of our health care was much lower. The only protection we offered to mothers who underwent induced abortion was that the procedure had to be carried out in a hospital. (In the future these procedures will still be carried out in hospitals). By receiving hospital care women did not die from these procedures and they did not develop serious infections.

Now we are in the process of establishing conditions that will help us reduce the number of abortions. We currently manufacture three types of birth control pills and we also import them. These pills are available at a very low price just like many other medications.

Translation of: Népesedéspolitikánk néhány kérdése: A Különb Utódokért Magyar Hirek 26; 10, 1973. Translated by Dr. Elizabeth Demeter Sign_______________

The aim is to allow every woman to find one type of pill that will suit her needs. They can be prescribed not only by a woman's gynecologist but by her family physician, as well. Doctors are now educated about their adverse side-effects and the type of medical check-up that should be carried out prior to prescribing these pills. As we know even an aspirin can have adverse side-effects.

We have established a national health network to protect the family. Through these networks doctors will provide guidance and answers to couples and pregnant women's concerns. It will now be mandatory for all women and couples to seek assistance from their doctors during pregnancy. A doctor will not only give a thorough examination, but he or she will also look into couples' parents and grandparents backgrounds for possible hereditary problems. Doctors can also examine the causes of sterility and provide assistance on birth control. Some medical offices will be equipped with laboratories to carry out appropriate tests while others will be assigned lawyers and psychologists to provide advice and assistance. We will introduce programs and will prepare educational pamphlets concerning family planning. Trained doctors will conduct seminars on this subject at schools. These will not be strictly sexual education sessions, rather they will cover biological and health aspects of reproduction, family planning and relationships. These seminars will enhance the young generation's knowledge of these topics thereby enabling them to take greater responsibility for their actions and help them to properly take care of themselves and their family members.

What can we expect from the new restriction?

According to the new law introduced on January 1, 1974 a pregnancy can still be terminated in certain cases. Induced abortion is allowed only where the mother's health is in jeopardy, where the mother is not married or has been separated for longer than six months, when neither parent has a place to live, when the mother already has three or more children, and when the mother has already had an induced abortion in the past or she is 35 years or older. We expect that the restrictions to obtain an abortion will result in increased sense of responsibility on the part of parents or the would-be mother. Clearly they will be better educated on the various options open to them.

Embryo protection

If our goal is to achieve a family with an average of three children why do we pay so much attention to the prevention of pregnancy? We shall still leave the decision of how many children families want up to the parents, but unrestricted access to abortion will no longer be allowed as has been the case in the past. It is an established medical fact that for the sake of the mother's health the first pregnancy must be carried to full term since an induced abortion often leaves a woman unable to conceive again. Even if the mother or parents had an important reason for terminating a pregnancy when they are later told that she can no longer have a child those seemingly important reasons become irrelevant. By educating parents on the risks associated with induced abortion and by helping them prevent unwanted pregnancies we can avoid human tragedies.

As I already mentioned the new law looks after the pregnant womans' safety and welfare. Now women will know that they have to see a doctor when they become pregnant. We would like to see them seek medical help at the very beginning of pregnancy even if they feel fine so we can detect any risks and

Translation of: Népesedéspolitikánk néhány kérdése: A Különb Utódokért

Magyar Hirek 26; 10, 1973. Translated by Dr. Elizabeth Demeter Sign_______________

complications as early as possible. The existing labor code guarantees that during the second half of her pregnancy every woman is entitled to work in a safe, physically comfortable environment. Those who already had an induced abortion or suffered through a miscarriage need special care. When deemed appropriate by her doctor she can be placed on special leave even starting at the first month of pregnancy. Pregnant woman may even be sent to a hospital to receive around-the-clock care to ensure that delivery will be normal and that both she and her baby will be strong and healthy. Doctors suggest that mothers should take the first month of the five-month paid maternity leave they are entitled to and stay home before birth. Unfortunately, most mothers do not accept this advise so our plan is to increase maternity leave an extra month and order a one-month rest at home before birth. This would be a continuation of the newly introduced law and would be an important part of our long term program. The date when we can introduce this new initiative will depend on our financial situation and other circumstances.

Kovács Judit