Changes that will effectively outlaw supported home births are paternalistic.
IN FIVE months' time, if my pregnancy progresses without complication, I will birth my second child at home, attended by two registered private midwives. If I'd become pregnant a mere six months later, this carefully researched, intensely personal decision would have been far more tenuous.
From the middle of next year, if the draft legislation establishing a new national registration scheme for health professionals becomes law, midwives will be required to hold indemnity insurance and midwives in private practice — those who typically attend home births — will be unable to access this insurance. This means that, with the exception a few small home-birth support programs run out of public hospitals, home birthing will effectively be outlawed.
... Dr Hilary Joyce, the new president of the National Association of Specialist Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, dismissed the significance of this ban by pointing out that only a small percentage of women in Australia choose to give birth at home ...
She misses the point. It's not about numbers. It's about choice. The government has no right to remove choices from people. Registered midwives, independent of the hospital system, are available to attend home births. Women, some of whom prefer their care to be independent of the hospital system, wish to contract these midwives to attend their births. There is demand, and there is supply. A market exists. The government's failure to provide insurance for midwives is against the laws of economics.
The assumption underlying her argument — that minority rights are unimportant and can be casually overridden — is both offensive and antithetical ...
... 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.
... Many assume that this is the crux of the matter; that home births are simply unsafe. But the facts suggest otherwise. International studies, and experience in countries such as the Netherlands and Britain, have conclusively demonstrated that for uncomplicated pregnancies, home births carried out with proper support are just as safe as hospital births.
... Such a paternalistic provision, effectively telling women what is and isn't good for them, cuts to the heart of women's collective dignity and autonomy. While women were once routinely patronised in this way, the contemporary assumption is that those bad old days are behind us. Sadly, this does not appear to be the case when it comes to birthing.