Sunday, July 26, 2009

Homebirth with an Independent Midwife to be made Illegal!

The rights of women to birth at home with an independent midwife are about to be taken away. From July next year, it will be illegal for an independent midwife to attend a woman at her birth at home. This is a basic human rights issue. If you can choose a caesarean, you should be able to legally choose birth at home with an independent midwife.

This back-door outlawing of true midwifery is a great shame for our government. Here is hoping that they listen to those of us protesting this erosion of our human rights. Attend the rally (in person or virtually) on September 7th.

Midwives Victoria
summarises the issues - stemming from these clauses in the proposed Bill (Health Practitioner Regulation National Law.

The Hoydens have a good post on this issue: here -

The die is cast. It is likely that independent midwives offering homebirth services to women are going to be struck off and bankrupted in a year’s time. Midwives will only have access to these New(tm!) and Wonderful(tm!) registration conditions if they attend women birthing in hospital under the thumbs of medical “collaboration”; which, in practice, means the doctors set the rules on just who midwives are allowed to care for at all. According to RANZCOG’s latest statement (Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists), “risk factors” that should trigger a referral to an obstetrician include not only previous C section or postpartum haemorrhage, but previous recurrent miscarriage, more than two terminations of pregnancy, postnatal depression, “morbid obesity” (Death Fat!), uterine fibroids, low maternal weight, or pregnancy beyond 41 weeks – and, get this – postpartum conditions such as the newborn having a poor suck. Because we all know obstetricians make fabulous lactation consultants. [/sarcasm]

See Illythia Inspired for several fabulous posts on this issue:

On the Rally

On Why all Birthers should care that Homebirth is being Outlawed.

On an Important Security Message *chortle*.

And Monica Dux in The Age: It's a Woman's Right to Choose how she Births: an extract -

In the past century we have seen a profound shift in the status of women, from being virtual chattels owned by husbands or fathers, to the attainment of full citizenship and (supposedly) equal rights with men. This hard-won legislative and cultural change has allowed women greater freedoms, but it has also given rise to an expectation of physical dignity, and of ownership over our own bodies, as epitomised in liberal abortion provisions and stricter sexual assault laws.

The legislative squeezing-out of home birth represents a serious regression in this reform process. Given that the new laws will effectively make private midwife-assisted home birth illegal, the Federal Government is acting to deprive most women of the ability to make a fundamental choice about their own bodies; the choice to birth in a non-medicalised environment.

Birthing is an extremely intimate, uniquely visceral, sometimes terrifying physical experience. There is much that will inevitably be out of a woman's control during her confinement, so allowing her to birth in the place in which she is most comfortable is fundamental to maintaining both her personal dignity and her sense of ownership over the experience.

Just as adequate abortion rights are important for all women, not just those with unwanted pregnancies, so the fundamental right to birth in the way one chooses is an issue for us all. In this respect the proposed legislation is a setback for all women, not just those who would take up the option of a home birth if it was offered to them

Lisa Barrett at Homebirth: A Midwife Mutiny has a great post: EXTERMINATE

If you read nothing else on the issue, read this at Looking Glass Alice.
People just don’t get it. Australians are prone to apathy at the best of times although perhaps it’s more a sense of disenfranchisement and disconnection which lies behind our ready acceptance, in the main, of laws like this. Everyone who refuses to support the campaign has some reason or other they’re using to justify it: I’ve finished birthing, I’m a bloke so I’ll never give birth, I like birthing in hospital (um yeah ok, whatever but I don’t so how about you put yourself in my shoes?), you’re exaggerating the dangers of hospitals you weirdy, it’s not worth it for so few women and they’re just noisy whingers anyway. Or any of the other myriad of misogyny-soaked excuses I’ve heard so far. It is tragic stuff that we don’t see beyond the end of our noses or our genitals to see the wider picture of basic rights being smashed and how that demeans all of us not just homebirthers.


I don’t need anyone making those decisions for me, thanks. Oddly enough I know even without a law to tell me that stabbing yourself in the eye with a biro hurts and that standing on lego is one of the most painful things an adult ever experiences. And I manage it all without the benefit of legislation that would criminalise my children for playing which is pretty much what children do. Women, likewise, have the physiological potential to just birth, and making criminals of us because of where and how we choose to pursue that potential is so offensive it’s almost beyond belief. Luckily for Big Daddy and his patriarchy, feminists have well developed senses of humour so we seldom go postal. One could perhaps argue however enough was enough and the straw which broke the camel’s back was the law that criminalised the very act which patriarchy seeks to force us to perform because we’re not performing it to Big Daddy’s rules. Talk about wanting your cake and eating it too. As a friend said, “What 99% of births wasn’t enough for you?”


Your human rights matter to me. I will continue in this struggle for the rest of my life. Join me as we pledge ourselves to keeping visible the women who choose homebirth and as we lovingly continue to maintain a safe space for each of us. I'm proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with each and every one of you. You are my sisters. Whatever the legislation says, we will still be here, no one can legislate us away.
Yup. That.

Get angry, write a letter to your local MP, go to the rally, make your opinion known!

[thanks Sazz for the image - more here]

1 comment:

Julie said...

Fantastic posts here and good points made. The right to safe alternatives to a medical, money-making monopoly on childbirth is essential for humanity. We will not take this assault on democracy and women's self-determination lying back in stirrups.