19 June 2009

Homebirths forced to go underground

If an Australian woman wanting give birth at home is Little Red Riding Hood, then the Rudd government is the Big Bad Wolf.

Under the draft Health Practitioner Regulation Law released last week, homebirths will effectively become illegal.

How does it work?

According to the new law, all health practitioners (such as midwives) must hold indemnity insurance in order to legally practise. Considering the government and insurance companies have thus far been unwilling to include homebirth in the indemnity scheme, therefore, any midwife that attends a homebirth (even if qualified) will be subject to a fine of AU$30,000.

Homebirths will now be forced to go underground as Australian women are being stripped of their choices in childbirth. Now, it seems that a hospital is the only sanctioned venue for birth to occur.

Australian College of Midwives executive officer Dr Barbara Vernon said the Government's intentions were obvious.

"Even though only less than half a per cent of women have home births, they should have the same rights as a woman who chooses to have a caesarean," she said. "Home births won't stop."

Vernon touches on an important contradiction. Why is that women can still elect to have caesarean births which arguably carries much risk and the small proportion of women (about 2%) who want to give birth at home cannot do so even if the birth is attended by a qualified health professional?

I think unfortunately, the tragic death of Joyous Birth founder, Janet Fraser's baby in April during a homebirth has unfairly placed the blame on the venue of birth rather than any other medical factors that could have been integral to her baby's death. It is not clear how Janet's baby died other than it suffered from cardiac arrest and could not be revived.

The small proportion of instances where homebirth goes horribly wrong pale in comparison to the staggering complication and caesarean rates that women in the developed world are continually subject to as a result of needless intervention in hospital.

Seriously, K. Rudd. Leave the business of birth to women.

On that note check this uplifting tale of homebirth...


T.J. and Jen said...

I just wanted to point out that from this post it appears that it is not illegal for a woman to give birth at home, it's illegal for the midwife to attend her. While this is definitely not ideal, there is a distinction. My own home birth in Atlanta, Georgia (USA) was done under the same circumstances with a certified professional midwife (who was certified in a different state - GA doesn't have licensing). It is a huge risk placed on the midwife, but the woman is free from liability.

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to point out that the info presented about Janet's birth and baby in this post are incorrect. The daily telegraph article linked to states that the cause of death is not yet confirmed and that the baby wasn't born in april. Interesting that none of these reports make mention of all the successful homebirths and freebirths (including the freebirth of Janet's older daughter).

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