Family Planning and Women�s Health in Hungary

Family Planning and Women�s Health in Hungary -...

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Family Planning and Women’s Health in Hungary vs. the United States Kaitlyn Herthel December 12, 2007 Comparative Feminisms
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Herthel 2 In the past few years, Hungary has drastically increased the sexual and reproductive health and rights of its women. With an increase in the rights regarding abortion, childcare, family allowances, healthcare, and with help from the Center for Reproductive Rights and contraception, women are experiencing more rights than they ever have. In the United States, women fought for the right to control their own bodies in terms of sexual and reproductive rights, and won with the Roe v. Wade decision of 1973. In the past seven years especially, American women have seen these rights slipping away, as mandatory counseling, waiting periods, parental consent and other restrictions find their way into the laws of many states. Hungary’s recent liberalization of policies regarding women’s health is comparable to the same policies of the United States, on our steady quest downhill through deliberalization and newfound religious outlooks in the government. As a country in the region known as Central Eastern Europe, many American citizens would view Hungary as being a country notorious for oppressing women, including areas involving their reproductive rights and health. However, since the early 1960s, Hungary has become more liberal in these areas regarding women’s rights. In the 1950s before Stalinism, Hungary enforced laws prohibiting all forms of abortion, despite risks to maternal or fetal health. The aim of such a restrictive policy was to increase the population of industrial workers as well as those in the military. This 1953 law was repealed in the early 1960s
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Herthel 3 during a time of political liberalization. After the increase in sexual freedom, the rate of abortions rose, to a rate of nearly one abortion for every live birth. The dramatic decrease in fertility rates frightened the government, causing them to encourage family life while at the same time refusing to return to the previous restrictive regime. In the 1960s, the Hungarian government used tactics to encourage family- life and improve the rate at which women were carrying pregnancies to term. They introduced a childcare grant- “an allowance for three years for full-time motherhood, paid by the Social Security, with job protection at the workplace as a positive attempt towards stimulating population increase” (Szalai 1). Women are being paid to have children while receiving job security for up to three years. This is not even guaranteed in the United States for more than approximately one year. Other programs and incentives include “inter alia, protecting pregnant women and supporting them after giving birth through family and support services” (Sexual and Reproductive Rights and Health in Europe 12). In the Hungarian class system, families with three or more children are viewed in higher esteem than smaller families or couples without children. The healthcare system in Hungary
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This note was uploaded on 04/25/2008 for the course WOMENS STU 301 taught by Professor Nowicka during the Fall '07 term at Rutgers.

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Family Planning and Women�s Health in Hungary -...

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