Termination of Pregnancy and Abortion in Hungary

Information on who to contact and how to proceed in the event of an unwanted pregnancy. Also information on family planning services and contraception in Hungary...

In Hungary a pregnancy can be terminated up to the twelfth week. However, before a termination takes place the woman (and the father too if possible) has to go to Family Planning (Családvédelmi Szolgálat) twice to receive information about state support and adoption. There has to be a gap of three days between the two appointments.

The woman must have counselling, pay for the termination and wait three days to have the abortion after requesting it. A session with a nurse is mandatory to discuss contraception and support the pregnancy should it be taken to term.

An abortion is legal in the following situations:

  • On request
  • To preserve the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman
  • If the pregnancy is the result of rape or an act of incest
  • If the foetus is severely physically or mentally impaired
  • Economic or social reasons

Pregnancies can be terminated up to the 24th week if severe foetal abnormalities are suspected. Terminations can be carried out at any stage of a pregnancy if a woman’s life is in danger or when it is clear that the foetus is sufficiently damaged for it to be unable to survive.

The Procedure

Although abortion is legal in Hungary, it is not made easy or convenient. A foreigner can only get an abortion if she has a valid residence permit.

Women seeking a termination for a non-medical reason should do the following:

  • Visit a gynaecologist to request a letter stating how far along the pregnancy is
  • Visit a social worker at a district Family Welfare Office with the gynaecologist’s letter, a valid residence permit and photographic identification. It is wise to take an interpreter, if necessary
  • Re-visit the social worker at least 72 hours after the first visit, again with an interpreter if necessary. The social worker provides a hospital referral for a termination
  • Make an appointment for the procedure at the chosen hospital. To do this, the gynaecologist’s letter, the hospital referral, a valid residence permit and photographic identification are needed

Due to the lengthy nature of this process, women are strongly advised to start seeking approval for an abortion for non-medical reasons, well in advance of the 12-week deadline.

Women with Hungarian health insurance can visit any state clinic to obtain the letter from a gynaecologist. At the second visit to the Family Welfare Office, the woman is given a postal cheque to cover the costs of a termination at a public clinic or hospital. The cheque must be paid into a post office and the receipt given as proof of payment at the hospital. Private doctors can set their own fees.

Abortion Method

Surgical abortions are the only legal method currently available in Hungary. The procedure must take place in a hospital or clinic. Women can opt for either local or general anaesthesia and will be required to remain in the hospital for a few hours after the operation.

Contraception

Modern methods of contraception are available in Hungary in clinics and pharmacies. Family planning services are part of the national health service and focus on counselling, pre- and post-natal care and reducing the number of abortions. However, the quality of family planning services in the country is often low.