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Home Birth to become Illegal?

By Jazz 4 September 2009 65

[First filed: September 04, 2009 @ 12:14]

Its not often that we run issues of national interest here on RiotACT but because we love Riot’s and this one in particular affects womens choice and I think its worth wider discussion.

The Health Legislation Amendment (Midwives and Nurse Practitioners) Bill 2009 and two related Bills (Currently midway through debate in the House of Representatives) if passed without amendment, will intersect with Commonwealth law regarding the National Registration and Accreditation of Health Professionals and effectively make private homebirth practice unlawful, once enacted after July 1 next year.

To save you the onerous task of wading through the Bills, in a nutshell, the Health Legislation Amendment (Midwives and Nurse Practitioners) Bill 2009 and the two related Bills enable Medicare funding, access to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and professional indemnity premium support for midwives.

Medicare funding for midwifery care is long overdue. But what the Bills put forward will mean that funding for homebirth will be excluded from any indemnity arrangement. Effectively making it impossible for a woman to be able to have a home birth attended by a registered midwife.

By doing this Australia is totally out of step with nations such as the United Kingdom, Canada, The Netherlands and New Zealand. These nations support the rights of women to choose homebirth and fund a registered midwife through their national health scheme. In New Zealand and the U.K in particular, women have a legislative right to choose homebirth.

Recent studies have shown that planned home birth for low risk women in North America using certified professional midwives was associated with lower rates of medical intervention than hospital births with the same rates
of mortality so it would suggest that home birth for low risk women not only safe, it is cheaper, since there is less intervention.

To protest the effective removal of homebirth as a birth option, the “Mother of all Rallies” is being held from 11.30am on Monday 7 September 2009 outside Parliament House in Canberra.

If youre on Facebook you can find some more details of the rally here. And further information on home birth choices is available on the save homebirth website here

UPDATE : Seems that the government has changed its mind and is now backing down on plans to push the legislation through.

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Home Birth to become Illegal?
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astrojax 7:54 pm 07 Sep 09

good upon you, granny! ; ) how was the rally overall? i heard on triple six a woman from melbourne who was having contractions as the rally was underway! she said in reply to the question of what she’d do if she went into later stages of labour that there were a few hundred midwives in close proximity, so she rekkun’d she’d be fine!

quokka wrote: I fail to see the direct link between “fear and apprehension as a result of misinformation” and maternal haemorrhage. and noting something about african statistics…
africa’s statistics doesn’t compare with western world stats – like apples and oranges, really.

and the captain raised the issue of one in ten being risky

well, first up, one in ten is risky, yes, and those ten percent require hospital facilities for their whole labour, perhaps even part of their pregnancy. that’s not at issue. good, professional advice through pregnancy will identify most of those to start with, so that number is drastically reduced.

and the reason africa is comprehensively different from australia and western countries also lies in that idea, that good midwifery support during pregnancy should identify a good deal of those with the likelihood of complications and put them in the ten percent [and so into a medically-supported model of birth] before any attempt at home birth. then, the by-definition ‘healthy’ mothers can choose to birth at home with appropriate, qualified midwifery support – to say again, the ‘fear and apprehension’ can be removed through appropriate advice and information about the physiology and other aspects of birth allowing women to understand that their bodies, if healthy (the 85-90% of cases), will happily, normally and – importantly – safely birth their child.

it is predominantly fear – through [mis]understandings of the birth process that are actually physiologically flawed (ie the usual false assumptions about the birth process) – that will cause the mother to work against the natural processes and bring about a greater degree of risk.

now, i am not advocating that all, or even most, mothers should – and should want to – birth at home, just that the process is not, contrary to much of the mindset cultivated through misinformation abounding in our culture, inherently risky, when the mother and her pregnancy (and her foetus) are healthy. what i argue is that, more women [and governments, etc] understanding these processes better will allow more mothers to be healthier through labour and there should be no reason to deny them – through litigating against their critical support services (midwives) – the choice to birth where they feel most comfortable (which, through understanding the physiology, is the key).

if insurance companies what to lower their risk they should be investing in a great deal more understanding – education and truth – for all participants in the birth process (women, men and the medical profession) and they will find they actually save money… but will they listen to commonsense?

and btw, good points, deeza, and no, thumper, they’re not: it is approaching libelous to suggest parents who want to birth their child at home are stupid…

Anna Key 7:47 pm 07 Sep 09

sepi said :

Anna Keys – the legislation does prevent midwives from legally attending homebirths. Nicola Roxon said last night that this was an unintended consequence of the legislation.

No it doesn’t. It prevents them acting professionally as a midwife without indemnity insurance, and this applies in any location, not just home births.

Granny 3:17 pm 07 Sep 09

I was at the rally. I have never felt so proud to be a woman.

sepi 2:14 pm 07 Sep 09
sepi 1:57 pm 07 Sep 09

Anna Keys – the legislation does prevent midwives from legally attending homebirths. Nicola Roxon said last night that this was an unintended consequence of the legislation.

I wonder how the homebirth rally went this morning – it would have been pretty wet and miserable at parliament house at 11.30. Nothing on any news sites as yet.

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