Fathers in the Czech Republic will no longer have to pay to be present at the birth of their child, the Constitutional Court has ruled. Until now, some hospitals charged fees ranging from between 300 and 1,000 crowns, and others none at all. Following the ruling, hospitals will only be able to charge for “above-standard” conditions. The court considered the matter after a hospital in Chomutov charged a man 500 crowns for being present at his child’s birth.
“The situation up until now was that the fathers or other close relatives who wanted to be present at the birth of the child, and to support the mother giving birth, had to pay a fee at some hospitals to have a chance of participating. Some hospitals already offered the option for free but around 20 or so asked for a fee.”
Some of those were quite high; I remember paying around 1,000 crowns to be able to be there… do you think charging such a fee was unethical?
“As stated, I would say yes. I also had the same experience and had to pay 1,000 crowns to be at the birth. In the end, it had to be a C-Section and I wasn’t allowed to be there… But I paid the fee and that was that. What seems unethical was that the fees were different from hospital to hospital while some wanted none. That seemed strange.”
The father who sued, it was a case where the gentleman in question paid 500 crowns to be at the birth of his child back in 2011 at a hospital in Chomutov… a good many of us would probably just pay and leave it at that, saying ok, it’s the birth of my child... what kind of an example do you think he set by taking the matter all the way to the Constitutional Court?
“I think it definitely set a very good example, think through the situation that he was in. In my case, I didn’t even question whether it was ethical, everybody was paying it and it just seemed normal. So he set a good example by acting as a responsible citizen.”
And it’s not a question of just the money…
“No. It is about citizens taking responsibility. It is about being brave and fighting things that are wrong or illegal. It was brave to go to court and to ask because he could have been stuck with the legal fees. He was brave to put up a fight.”