Strasbourg: Lithuania "Justified" in Not Letting Medics Deliver Babies at Home

The European Court of Human Rights has made a judgement in the case of Kosaitė-Čypienė and others v. Lithuania, which concerned the right of women to give birth in their homes with the help of medical professionals.

The applicants claimed that hospitals had refused to provide medical care to women who wanted to give birth at home, instead telling them they had to deliver their babies at a maternity hospital.

The European Court of Human Rights acknowledged that Lithuanian law effectively forced women to choose between giving birth at a hospital or giving birth at home without medical supervision. Although the court agreed that this amounted to a restriction of the right to private life, it is explicitly provided for in Lithuanian law, and as such the applicants could not have legitimately expected doctors to come to their homes.

Lithuanian law also makes it clear that it would be the medical professionals that would face legal consequences if they delivered babies in the women's homes, while the women themselves were not actually forbidden from giving birth at home. Finally, the court pointed out that the Convention does not oblige its signatories to allow planned home births. The practices vary from country to country.

As such, the Court ruled that there was no violation of Article 8.