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Women tell Julia Gillard “My Body, My Birth, My Right”

By emd 19 August 2010 135

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We turned out in our thousands in the rain last September at the Parliament House protest. We broke the record for submissions to the National Maternity Services Review in October 2008. We embarassed Julia Gillard in north Queensland on Tuesday, asking her what she’s going to do about women being unable to legally access a registered private midwife because of the Government’s new collaboration requirements. And today was Canberra’s turn, with a protest in the wind and rain outside the National Press Club while Julia Gillard was inside with the heater on.

Approximately twenty five women, and a dozen or more babies and small children, made sure their banners were in full view of the arriving media: “We Support Midwives – We Are Not Going Away”, “Medicare for Women and Miwives – With No Medical Veto!”, and “Let’s Move Forward – With PRACTICAL Birth Choices”. Sandwiched between a protest about the home insulation fiasco, and a youth Climate Change action group, the women took up a chant of “My Body, My Birth, My Right” as the cars arrived.

What are these women complaining about? The Government’s new Medicare for midwives legislation means that women can only access a registered homebirth midwife if a private obstetrician agrees to the birth plan. The AMA and MIGA (the medical indemnity insurer for both midwives and private obstetricians) are actively discouraging collaboration, and there is nothing to be gained by doctors if they choose to collaborate. So of course, it is virtually impossible to find a private obstetrician who will agree to a home birth plan with a registered midwife in attendance. This means that women who want to birth at home will have to do so without any registered health professional in attendance, or find a midwife who is willing to risk criminal charges by working without registration.

It all comes down to money. The AMA and MIGA do very well out of the funds received from private obstetricians, whose fees are heavily subsidised by the Medicare Safety Net scheme. Each private obstetric birth is estimated to cost the Australian taxpayer between $5,000 and $20,000, although the woman might pay only a small portion of that amount. A private midwifery home birth costs under $5,000, and until now has been paid 100% by the woman (no Medicare subsidy). Even with Medicare subsidy, a private midwifery birth will cost much less than an obstetric birth. And for women having a normal, healthy pregnancy and birth, it is a valid choice.

And therein lies the problem. By giving private doctors (not public hospitals, only private doctors are able to participate in the collaboration arrangements) the right to veto a private midwifery home birth plan, the Government has set a dangerous precedent for women’s rights in Australia. It is now legal for a doctor to decide what a woman can do with her own vagina, even if the woman disagrees. Where might this lead in future? Just think about that for a minute. Women who have been given full and accurate information about all their options will not be allowed to pay for a private service that their doctor does not offer.

So… how many protests will it take before Julia Gillard and Nicola Roxon realise that they are removing women’s rights?

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What’s Your opinion?


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135 Responses to
Women tell Julia Gillard “My Body, My Birth, My Right”
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Anna Key 8:56 pm 06 Jun 12

A follow up to an oldie. The SA deputy coroner doesn’t seem to think killing babies in the name of mothers rights is a good thing either, despite the apparently strong and informed views of a dozen or so babies

http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/south-australian-coroner-wants-crackdown-on-midwives-and-homebirths/story-e6frea83-1226386012581

cleo 2:46 am 09 Jan 11

What about the babies rights! They have no say regarding if they are born in a safe environment

cleo 2:45 am 09 Jan 11

What about the babies rights!

Leinna 7:12 pm 02 Sep 10

I don’t know why they had a punch up.

If someone else wanted to do my work, I’d be quite happy to go home!

Anna Key 1:32 pm 02 Sep 10

chewy14 said :

Sepi,

pregnant women are banned from playing rugby too.

Even if a midwife is on the team?

chewy14 10:11 am 01 Sep 10

sepi said :

rugby games are probably more dangerous than homebirthing – why have we not yet banned these dangerous sports.

is it only women that need to be protected from themselves?

Sepi,

pregnant women are banned from playing rugby too.

sepi 9:05 am 01 Sep 10

yes – sorry – was being a bit flippant. The punch-up was over who would perform the caesarian.

Leinna 10:04 pm 31 Aug 10

Given that she lost her uterus in the process, and the baby was brain damaged, it probably would have been worse is she was at home!

I’m wondering what caused the punch up :-/

sepi 3:51 pm 31 Aug 10

This poor woman probably wishes she had a homebirth – medical professional delay caesarian by having punch-up during delivery.

http://www.independent.ie/world-news/europe/minister-apologises-for-doctors-csection-punchup-2317881.html

sepi 3:36 pm 31 Aug 10

rugby games are probably more dangerous than homebirthing – why have we not yet banned these dangerous sports.

is it only women that need to be protected from themselves?

sjgcd 3:27 pm 31 Aug 10

The Government are behaving like a “Big Brother” So to speak, if it looks like there could be an issue arising worth sueing they’ll squash out all possibilities of it by putting in legislations!! So I’m sorry public but again its the minority that ruin it for the majority!! Those people out there wanting to sue for any god damned reason (just so they dont have to work and get more money) are the reason why the Government are wrapping us in a tighter bound of cotton wool!! We lose more and more “freedoms” thanks to those Lazy, Pathetic people who are schemers and con artists!! Squash those people and take everything aways from them so they can understand and appreciate things they actually have to work for LIKE EVERYONE ELSE!!! Rant over, thanks.

Anna Key 1:47 pm 31 Aug 10

astrojax said :

Anna Key said :

emd said :

The safest location depends on the individual medical history of the woman, and where she feels safest. this is a decision to be made by the individuals involved. Not something government should seek to legislate for all women.

And who decides whether a woman’s medical history supports this option? Sounds like we need a doctor involved

for fred’s sake, yes, of course we need ‘a doctor involved’ – but that doesn’t have to imply a doctor is needed in the actual birth process; you i hope see your gp regularly enough for a check up and can pretty well guage your health. similarly, a pregnant woman can consult a gp, an obstetrician and midwifery care for a running check on how her general state of health is. don’t conflate this with the need for medical intervention in the birthing process, not helpful in the context of the discussion…

Under the legislation, a homebirth does not require a doctor/ob to be present at the birth process. And for someone accusing me of haivng issues with logic, I would have thought my use of ‘supported’ in the context of this discussion was quite straightforward, but for the sake of clarity, supported by having a medical opinion over the health and safety or otherwise of the mother and the child.

And no idea what the captain raaf reference means….

astrojax 9:24 am 30 Aug 10

Anna Key said :

So any woman that doesn’t want a homebirth option is insane, unintelligent and uninformed…

The federal government did step in for midwives, just not for unsupported home births

you really have difficulty in disentangling straight forward logic, don’t you? ‘sane, intelligent and informed women’ can apply to a number of coteries, so no, it doesn’t in the least imply that women who want something different to this are the inverse…

and as for the second sentence, the definition of ‘supported’ is entirely what is at issue. how does this intejection advance the discussion?? are you really just captain raaf on mogadon?

astrojax 9:19 am 30 Aug 10

Anna Key said :

emd said :

The safest location depends on the individual medical history of the woman, and where she feels safest. this is a decision to be made by the individuals involved. Not something government should seek to legislate for all women.

And who decides whether a woman’s medical history supports this option? Sounds like we need a doctor involved

for fred’s sake, yes, of course we need ‘a doctor involved’ – but that doesn’t have to imply a doctor is needed in the actual birth process; you i hope see your gp regularly enough for a check up and can pretty well guage your health. similarly, a pregnant woman can consult a gp, an obstetrician and midwifery care for a running check on how her general state of health is. don’t conflate this with the need for medical intervention in the birthing process, not helpful in the context of the discussion…

sepi 9:00 pm 29 Aug 10

Ah no.
What I meant is that if a number of sane, intelligent women want access to homebirth, they should have that option.

It is very nanny-state to just ban it outright, for people’s own good.

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