Ternovszky v. Hungary |2010

Woman wins right to legally give birth at home

I am just like millions of other mums who wished to decide where and under what conditions I would deliver my two babies.

Anna Ternovszky


Anna Ternovszky wanted to give birth at home rather than in hospital. 

But under Hungarian law at the time, any health professional who wanted to help with a home birth ran the risk of being prosecuted. One such prosecution had taken place in Hungary in recent years.

Judgment of the European Court of Human Rights

The European court ruled that Hungarian law concerning home births was contradictory. Patients had a right to freely choose whether to accept or reject certain medical treatments, but at the same time health professionals who wanted to help with home births faced the threat of prosecution. 

This legal uncertainty left the law open to abuse and limited the choices that soon-to-be mothers like Anna could make when considering a home birth. This breached Anna’s rights.

For the Court, the right to choice in matters of child delivery includes the legal certainty that the choice is lawful and not subject to sanctions, directly or indirectly.

Judgment of the European Court of Human Rights, December 2010


It was a wonderful feeling to learn that we won, and that the court condemned the state of Hungary, forcing my country to create the necessary regulations as soon as possible.
Anna Ternovszky


Anna had given birth at home by the time the European court made its judgment in her case.

In 2011, Hungary passed a new law allowing soon-to-be mothers whose pregnancies are free of medical complications to choose to give birth at home. The law also set out rules on the duties and responsibilities of healthcare professionals who help during home births.