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