Hungarian doctor advocating home births given 2-year prison sentence for malpractice

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An obstetrician considered the main advocate for home births in Hungary was sentenced ... to two years in prison for malpractice ...

Agnes Gereb was found guilty of medical negligence in two separate home births, including one in which the baby died. She will have to spend at least a year behind bars before parole and was also banned from practicing both as an obstetrician and a midwife for five years.

Lawyers representing Gereb ... had appealed the decision of the Budapest City Court.

... The verdict ... was unusual because the judge's sentence was much tougher than the suspended prison term originally sought by the prosecution.

... Gereb's litigation became a rallying point for Hungarians seeking to accept home births as a regulated method of delivery.

Earlier this month, the government said home births will be allowed from May 1, but only under strict safety conditions.

Until now, women in Hungary had the right to give birth at home, but medical professionals were banned from assisting planned home births.

... midwives criticized the ruling against Gereb, saying the court applied different standards to home births from those used in deliveries at a hospital.

"In civilized countries, midwives answer for their work to professional associations, not courts," ... "They are judged not solely by experts who have experience only in hospital births, but by professionals who know about home births."

... Because of a similar case in 2007, Gereb was already given a three-year ban from exercising her profession.

Gereb's advocacy and her determination to assist with thousands of home births over the years has received plenty of media attention in Hungary, with public opinion about her deeply split.

She was recently voted one of Hungary's "Women of the Decade" ...

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