This lawsuit, which had been expected at some point from the very first days of assisting athomebirths, has been going on for seven years. I have indelible memories of waiting for minutesthat seemed like infinity in the dead silence of the street, staring into space for the ambulance toarrive and of standing helplessly listening for the sound of distant sirens – at the very place whereas a child on a winter afternoon just like thas one I had peeked though windows with my sisterchecking where the Xmas trees had already arrived. There I was standing as an adult thrown intonothing while a few floors from me the others were fighting for a newborn’s life. If I can be proudof anything at all, it is that I can associate with them, our common work, which also includessitting in the dock together for 7 years now.
It’s said that in every seven years there is a turning pont in people’s lives. And so many thingshave happened in these past seven years, there have been many changes in the social andprofessional judgement and understanding of homebirth. After all this time, however, theaburdity was still to be heard last time that 90 degrees to the left, minus 90 degrees, then 90degrees to the right minus 90 degrees make 360 degrees. In truth it is obvious to any school pupilthat the result is zero. And if zero can also be described as 360, then it is possible that we havereached a point when there is regulation and there seems to be some sort of order shaping out,yet there is a negging doubt : has anything really happened, anything substantial? Or are we rightthere making no progress on zero point, and any movement is only illusory?
The choice of homebirth is a minority choice in European civilisation. This will not change. If aperson, due to their origin, choice or character, becomes part of a minority in a community, thenthey have to wait for some time, short or long (sometimes for millennia), while those in majorityaccept them and stop viewing their different needs for freedom as something extreme. Minoritiesand otherness usually creates a state of disenfranchisement. And if in this trial five prejudiced andangry male experts, who take the views of the majority as the absolute truth, are sat opposite thefive, “different” women, who in their eyes follow extreme princliples, then this expert opinion,as we have seen, will only produce prejudice, misinterpretation and lack of understanding. It canonly be trusted that this will not influence the judgement.
None of my births have been gentle births. And still, or perhaps for this very reason, it was nearly30 years ago that I was first present as a helper at one of my friends’ births and thus assisting atbirths has inevitably become a part of my life. As a doula, sometimes as a midwife or a therapist.But the meaning of birth I found over one and a half decades ago in the course of assisting themover and over again. Towards the end of a birth you can often hear words of encouragment: “Letit come, whatever it is!” And this whatever, without which there is no birth, is the blood, theexcrement, the fear, the shame and the encounter with death – and letting go. It is a lie to deny orrefine any of this.
I have experienced at many births that the needs and experiences of the woman giving birth andthe child are inseparable and we cannot even consider them separately. Amongst others, this isone of the reasos why it is hypocritical demagoguery to demand the rights of the child to lifeindependently from the rights of the mother, as it was pointed out at the end of the prosecution’ssumming up. A child ought to have many rights: to live with parents who are neither physicallynor emotionally crippled. To live without harm which comes from the parents having lived
without harm. Is it really the case, I wonder, whether all photos of children who died in hospitalare being looked at by official persons, filled with such emotions as was stated by the prosecutorin our case according to her account?
I would like the court to acquit us in this case. Why? For example, because if the obstetricprofession and society didn’t judge by double standards, we would never even have been broughtto trial. Or we should be acquitted because on the occcasions when we gave the best of ourknowledge and professional competence, the cruelty of nature proved itself invincible. Anyonewho gets involved with birth knows that sometimes tragedies occur irrespective of the place ofbirth.
Finally, let me add that it has been the work over the past 21 years of those sitting on this bench,which lead to the recognition and regulation of homebirth in Hungary. Thus I request that we areacquitted so that the order which is being shaped can really be born out of freedom, and so thatwe can continue our work in this freedom. If, however, we were to be given a sentence, I requestto be given exactly the same sentence as my co-defendants.