European judges have a number of questions regarding the home births in the Czech Republic

10. September 2013

Today’s hearing regarding the complaints of two Czech women by the European court of Human Rights demonstrated the interest of the judges concerning the situation in the Czech Republic. According to the expectations, the hearing was not formal – the judges asked a number of additional questions, especially towards the government. The subject matter of the complaint is the state attitude toward home births, which are attempted to be limited by the state by obstructing providing the care by midwives. The decision in this case may be expected to be rendered within a couple of weeks or months.

The judges asked the government to provide a commentary to the Constitutional Court decision in the case of criminalized midwife Ivana Königsmarková and to its conclusion, that the parents shall be given a certain degree of freedom in decision making and that the delivery outside of the hospital falls within the acceptable risk. Furthermore, they demanded the data of the ratios of the cases, where any unexpected complications occur. They also asked about the reason why the government had not forbidden the home births as a whole yet, since they considered them to be significantly dangerous.

The government argued, for instance, that assisted home births shall not be permitted, since other international obligations do not allow such a step. „We refuse such arguments, due to the fact that the countries, such as Germany, Austria and Great Britain, would have to be violating the same obligations as well in that case. In these countries, about one to three percent of women choose the planned home delivery,“ says the legal director of the League of Human Rights Zuzana Candigliota. According to her, the women’s rights are violated not only by deterring the midwives from providing care by home births, but also by lack of legislation, which would allow the home births.

The statistics fight

Further arguments presented by the government were mostly the statistics proving the top results of the Czech obstetrics based on the deliveries performed mainly in hospitals. The representatives of state also mentioned that it is within the sole authority of the state to regulate the health sector and the scope of the permitted care, therefore the court should not interfere.

The representatives of the complainants, the attorneys Richard Hořejší and David Zahumenský with the aid of a bio-statist Markéta Pavlíková, referred to other statistics and researches proving that the home birth is equally safe as the delivery conducted in the hospitals. They also highlighted the practice in the western countries, where the home birth is an available option and the results of care are on an excellent level as well.

Further information may be provided by:

Zuzana Candigliota, legal director of the League of Human Rights, tel. 607 005 043

Adéla Hořejší, attorney of one of the complainants, tel. 776 696 656


Video recording from the court hearing may be found here.