Home births threatened

A DOZEN Lismore mums and one dad rallied outside Page MP Janelle Saffin’s office yesterday to protest about proposed legislation affecting homebirth midwives.

The women fear amendments to the law outlined by Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon last week will make it impossible for some private practice midwives to continue to work.

The new clause requires midwives to enter into ‘collaborative arrangements with medical practitioners’ before they can be registered or have access to insurance cover and Medicare benefits.

The Northern Rivers Maternity Action Group believes the law ‘will appoint private obstetricians and GP obstetricians as the gatekeepers for access to private midwifery care’.

Because both the Australian Medical Association and the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists are opposed to homebirths, the future for such midwives looks bleak, the group says.

“With a private practice midwife, a woman will have many consultations and can build up a deep rapport,” Northern Rivers action group spokeswoman Heidi Jones said.

The rally, she said, was to ‘express our concerns that local women want to retain the option to avail themselves of their choice of midwife and thereby ensure continuity of care during their pregnancy and during and after giving birth’.

Protester Kath O’Driscoll, a mother of two homebirth sons, said homebirth midwives had three years of training and education.

“Australia is quite draconian in limiting women’s choices, and it’s particularly sad that this is happening under a Rudd Government and with a woman health minister,” she said.

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