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Croatia: European court urges authorities to “regulate more clearly” home births legislation

Human rights judges want Croatia to “regulate more clearly” home birth legislation.

This follows today’s Chamber judgment in the case of Pojatina v. Croatia (application no. 18568/12).

The applicant Ivana Pojatina, is a mother who gave birth to her fourth child at home with the help of a midwife from abroad.

She alleged in particular that, although Croatian law allowed home births, women such as her could not make this choice in practice because they were not able to get professional help.

The European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been:

no violation of Article 8 (right to respect for private life) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The court accepted that at first there might have been some doubt as to whether a system for assisted home births had been set up in Croatia. It therefore called on the authorities to consolidate the relevant legislation so that the matter is expressly and clearly regulated.

However, it found that the applicant had clearly been made aware, through the letters from the Croatian Chamber of Midwives and the Ministry of Health which she had received while she had still been pregnant with her fourth child, that the domestic law did not allow assisted home births.

It further found that the authorities had struck the right balance between the applicant’s right to respect for her private life and the State’s interest in protecting the health and safety of mothers and children.

It pointed out in particular that Croatia was not currently required under the convention to allow planned home births. There was still a great disparity between the legal systems of the Contracting States on home births and the Court was sensitive to the fact that the law developed gradually in this area.

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