Hungary has tightened abortion rules, and activists said on Tuesday that pregnant women would have to listen to the fetus’s heartbeat before having an abortion.

Anti-abortion rhetoric in the EU member state has intensified under Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who has become more Christian-conservative.

The decree, signed by the interior minister and published in the government gazette on Monday evening, changes the form of application required to terminate a pregnancy.

It stipulates that doctors must issue a report in which it is recorded that the pregnant woman was presented with “a ratio that indicates the functioning of the vital functions of the fetus in a clearly defined form.”

The far-right Mi Khazank (Our Homeland) party pushed for the amendment, while its lawmaker Dora Duro welcomed the decree, which comes into effect on Thursday.

“A chance for life: from now on, mothers will listen to the heartbeat of the fetus!” she said in a Facebook post. “The government has taken a step in the direction of real protection of all fetuses from conception.”

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Aron Demeter, spokesman for Amnesty International Hungary, said the decree would “make access to legal and safe abortion more difficult.”

“It’s definitely a worrying step back, a bad sign,” he told AFP. “This amendment does nothing, but will further traumatize women, put additional pressure on women who are already in a difficult position.”

He said the legislative change “came out of nowhere, without any public or professional consultation on the matter”.

Abortion has been legal in Hungary since 1953. In 1992, the government passed a law on the protection of fetal life.

According to the current law, abortions can be performed up to 12 weeks, but under certain circumstances they can be extended to 24 weeks.

Women must meet with family services workers before they are allowed to terminate a pregnancy.

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