If you find yourself with a pregnancy you cannot keep, it is good to know that abortion is available in Hungary. Terminating a pregnancy, however, is not an easily or conveniently available option.
The current law as of January 2013 states that an abortion is allowed before the 12th week of pregnancy in one of the following situations:
- if the mother’s life is endangered by the pregnancy
- if the fetus has a severe abnormality
- the pregnancy is the result of a crime
- the pregnant woman is in a state of crisis
Hungarian law also allows for terminating a pregnancy for up to 24 weeks if there are serious medical reasons.
If you are terminating your pregnancy for non-medical reasons, it is important that you start the approval procedure well before the 12-week deadline. Please note that the age of your pregnancy is counted from your last menstrual period, not from your date of conception. This means that the age of pregnancy is usually 2 weeks ahead of the age of the fetus; e.g. if you got pregnant 4 weeks ago, you are considered 6 weeks pregnant. Since most women become aware of their pregnancy around 4-6 weeks (or even later if they have an irregular menstrual cycle), and it takes at least a week to schedule all the necessary appointments, this means you may have less time to make a decision than you thought.
What you need to do to get an abortion for non-medical reasons
- Visit a gynecologist and request a note that states the age of the pregnancy.
- Visit a social worker at a district Family Welfare Office. (See list of Family Welfare Offices.) You will need the note from the gynecologist, your residence permit and a picture ID. Bring an interpreter.
- You must visit the Family Welfare social worker again at least 72 hours after your first appointment. Bring an interpreter. If you still wish to terminate your pregnancy, they will give you a referral to a hospital.
- Make an appointment for the procedure at your preferred hospital. You will need the note from the gynecologist, the referral from the district Welfare Office, your residence permit, and a picture ID.
If you do not have a residence permit, you cannot have an abortion in Hungary. If your residence permit is less than 2 months old, you cannot have an abortion in Hungary. This happened to me many years ago, I had no residence and so I was obliged to fill my EHIC application. If this happens to you, you will need to return to your home country or inquire in neighboring countries. (Austria offers abortions for EUR 500 with no residency requirements, and they also allow medical abortions.)
Available method of termination
The method of termination is by vacuum aspiration which is a surgical procedure requiring a hospital visit. You can choose between local and general anesthesia. The procedure is brief, but you will be required to stay at the hospital for observation for several hours or even overnight depending on your doctor’s recommendation. Make sure you have someone to take you home or arrange for a taxi afterwards.
Using medication and not a surgical procedure to terminate a pregnancy is not licensed and therefore not permitted in Hungary at present. It is available in Austria.
If you have Hungarian health insurance, you can visit any state clinic for the gynecology note. At your second visit at the Family Welfare Office, they will give you a yellow postal check for approximately HUF 30 000 which you will need to pay at a post office, and present the stub as proof of payment at the hospital along with the rest of your documentation. As long as you use public clinics and public hospitals, the HUF 30 000 from the Family Welfare Office should be your only cost. If you choose a private doctor, they will inform you of their fees for their visits and for performing the procedure, which you will need to pay out of pocket. Your Hungarian health insurance will cover your hospital fees.
If you have private or no insurance, you can still use the Hungarian system, but you will need to pay out of pocket for everything. Most insurance companies do not cover the cost of abortions, but you should check with your insurance company to make sure. In this case, you can expect to pay about HUF 10 000 for the gynecology visit, and about HUF 80 000 for the surgical procedure and the hospital stay.
Private clinics that cater specifically to foreigners will help you by making the necessary appointments for you and providing English-speaking staff and doctors. Altogether, the gynecology visit, the administrative fee, the hospital stay and the fee for the procedure will cost a total of HUF 200 000 to 300 000 depending on the private clinic and hospital you choose.
Réka Morvay is a psychologist, doula, childbirth educator, lactation consultant and student midwife living and working in Budapest, Hungary. If you need more information or simply someone to talk to, consider making an appointment.