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Verdict: The Czech Republic may prohibit midwives from helping with home births


Grand Chamber of the ECHR confirms first instance judgment
A ban on midwives to support home births does not violate the fundamental rights of mothers. The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg confirmed on Tuesday, November 15, 2016, a corresponding ECHR Chamber decision from 2014 on the Czech Republic (Ref .: 28859/11 and 28473/12).

Partly after bad previous experience in the hospital, the two applicants wanted to have their second or third child at home. However, they did not find any midwives to assist them in this. The background is a Czech ban for members of all health professions to accompany planned home births. Midwives are then only allowed to work in hospitals.

The two women claim that the ban violates their human right to private and family life. In a chamber decision on December 11, 2014, the ECHR rejected the complaints (also Az .: 28859/11 and 28473/12; JurAgentur report from the day of the judgment). The Strasbourg judges, however, asked the Czech Republic to ensure that mothers can go to hospitals where their birth wishes are respected and taken into account.

The ECHR Grand Chamber has now confirmed the Czech regulations. Home births are handled very differently in the member states of the Council of Europe. The individual states should therefore be given further leeway here.

The regulations in the Czech Republic are anchored in law and known to all women, especially pregnant women. The law pursues the permitted goal of better protecting the life and health of mother and child. In addition, the Czech Republic has taken various steps to improve the situation and in particular the expectation of expectant mothers in hospitals.

All in all, the right to mothers' private and family lives has therefore not been violated, the ECHR Grand Chamber has now ruled with a clear majority, also in the highest instance. mwo / fle

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