Home birth in Croatia: Is midwifery assistance potential ‘quackery’?

02 December 2018
5 min read
Volume 26 · Issue 12

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) recently heard a case brought by a mother who wanted to guarantee a legal right to a home birth in Croatia. She explained that her first three births in hospital had gone normally but had been stressful ‘as she had felt that her wishes had not been respected and that she had not had control over […] procedures' (Pojatina v. Croatia [2018], at paragraph 43). The mother believed that a planned home birth for her fourth child would give her this sense of autonomy and control, and so wrote to Hrvatska Komora Primalja, the Croatian Chamber of Midwives (CCM), asking if she could have professional assistance. The CCM's reply was that midwives, like other health professionals, were not able to assist at a home birth.

In 2011, the Croatian Ministry of Health stated that the law required babies to be delivered in medical facilities. Home births were not regulated by law, and medical assistance would be considered ‘quackery’ (Pojatina v. Croatia [2018], at paragraph 12). Section 184(1) of the Croatian criminal code defines quackery as a person providing ‘medical treatment or other medical assistance while lacking the necessary professional qualifications' and states that such persons ‘shall be punished by imprisonment of up to one year.’

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