Thursday, June 25, 2009

Save homebirth! Shame on you, Nicola Roxon!

As of July next year, homebirth with a private midwife will be illegal in Australia, if legislation being introduced to Federal Parliament goes through.

How? Well, it will be illegal for a practitioner to attend a birth without insurance, and indemnity insurance isn't available to private midwives - and the government won't step in and help midwives get insurance. At the moment, midwives practice without insurance, and this is a risk they, and their clients, knowingly take on.

From my understanding, government-funded homebirth programs, such as the Community Midwifery Program here in WA, will still run, because the government covers insurance for them. However, these programs are very limited in scope: geographically; in terms of the number of places available; and in terms of a very narrow eligibility requirement. For example, I doubt I'd be able to get a place now because I've had two post-partum haemorrhages, a cervical tear and a 43 week pregnancy. Women who've had previous C-sections, are pregnant with twins or have a baby presenting breech at term are automatically excluded.

Whether or not *you* would want to have a homebirth - either at all or with any of those "risk factors" - is entirely your choice. But that's just what it should be: a choice. That choice is being taken away from Australian women.

Bewilderingly, our Health Minister, who is introducing this legislation, is a woman and a mother. Can she not see that this is a huge step backwards for women's rights?

Write your local member. Attend local rallies. Lobby senators (I think it's in the Senate, where the government relies on minor parties to get a majority, that we stand the best chance of defeating this Bill).

You might not want a homebirth, but what if your daughter did one day? Where does it end? What if all you want is a vaginal birth and suddenly the law told you that your care provider must perform a caesarean? Everyone has the right to informed consent ... unless you're a birthing woman.

Our bodies, our rights, our choice. Back off, Ms Roxon.


Emma Someone said...

It's not just that MIPPS can't get insurance to practice - no midwife will be able to attend a homebirth, regardless of whether she has insurance or not (and also regardless of whether she works in a hospital or not, so no moonlighting will be allowed either), as it will be outside her scope of practice and the rules associated with her registration.

To entice someone to do that: $30,000 fine potentially.

To do so: $30,000 fine potentially as well.

Keep in mind also that many MIPPS don't want insurance and would decline but for it to be linked to registration. No one is going to insure me to be with women who are outside of the very restrictive guidelines that are used at the moment to define "low risk" - no twins, no breech, no less than x weeks (some say 38, some say 36), no more than 41 weeks (despite a normal pregnancy being 42 weeks), no previous obstetric history, no medical conditions, no young/old/fat/thin/less than perfect.

Whether I take a woman on or not is entirely between me and her. It should have nothing to do with my registration.

Georgie said...

Thank you for clarifying, Emma.

Emma Someone said...

Add vbac to that list as well. Sorry to take over your really good post - it's such a complicated topic and multifaceted and there so no easy answer.