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Access to home births and midwifery addressed at European Court of Human Rights

Dec 11, 2015 |

Patricia Janssen, a Professor in the School of Population and Public Health, testified in the European Court of Human Rights earlier this month as an expert witness on the topic of women’s access to regulated midwifery and home birth in the Czech Republic.

The case involved Czech nationals who wanted to give birth with a health professional at their homes. They say that option was impossible under Czech law, which forbids health professionals from assisting with home births. Relying on Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life) of the European Convention on Human Rights, both applicants complain that mothers have no choice but to give birth in a hospital if they wish to be assisted by a health professional.

© European Court of Human Rights
A Senior Scholar with the Child and Family Research Institute, Dr. Janssen is an expert in the area of perinatal epidemiology, and has done extensive research in the field of midwifery, home birth outcomes, and costs associated with home birth versus hospital births.

Dr. Janssen noted, after her testimony, that while it will may take the Court a year to reach a judgement on this matter, the decision would be binding throughout all of Europe.
The press release from European Court of Human Rights contains more details about the case as it was brought before the Court.