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Jan 14, 2020 - Zoltán Kovács

State acquisition of fertility clinics: It’s about removing obstacles for couples who want to have children

Critical outlets, of course, were quick to jump on Hungary’s move to make infertility treatment free-of-charge. The prime minister stated our case last week at an international press conference, but they’ve largely ignored the explanation. So, once again, here’s our reasoning for the move.

While some critical voices – led by Austrian daily Kurier - were quick to label the government’s move to take over the financial burden of in-vitro fertilization (IVF) from Hungarian families as “production” of “state-sponsored babies,” Hungary’s family policy has a far more important goal: It’s about removing obstacles for couples who wish to have children.

Since 2010, one of the Orbán Governments’ most important priorities has been halting the decline of Hungary’s population. In a Europe where demographic decline has become commonplace, there are two, conflicting approaches to addressing the problem.

The approach advocated by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and his government clearly sees that Hungarian couples would like to have more children and they should have the necessary support to make it easier to do so. We are not proponents of relying on immigration to solve our population decline. This is why, in his “State of the Nation” address last February, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán announced a seven-point family protection action plan – “Hungary’s response to demographic decline.”

Some countries in Western Europe pursue a different approach, which relies on immigration. This school of correcting Europe’s demographic course ignores the national, cultural background of newcomers and therefore focuses only on population numbers.

Entered into force on July 1, 2019, the family protection action plan has propelled Hungary to become one of the global leaders in family support. As PM Orbán has also said on multiple occasions, the main goal of the action plan is to enable Hungarian families who want to have more babies to do so. By giving preferential loans to couples, providing generous support to home purchase, creating new places in nursery schools and other family benefits, the Hungarian Government’s policy has been consistently about removing obstacles to child rearing.

Thus, the government’s latest move to alleviate the financial burden of in-vitro fertilization from Hungarian families trying to have babies is entirely consistent with this policy. While 90 percent of IVF costs have already been covered by the state, from February 1, the government will foot the whole bill, making artificial insemination free-of-charge.

Responding to a question during last week’s international press conference, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán confirmed that the state has purchased all IVF-related companies that operate on the Hungarian market for bioethical reasons as well. According to the PM, the state can only assume bioethical responsibility if it’s able to supervise the entire IVF process, from beginning to end.

So, once again, it’s not about “production” of “state-sponsored babies.” It’s about extending help to couples who would like to have children, with the hope that all who want to have children will do so.

Photo credit: Gordon Parenting