HOME births would be driven underground by new maternity laws, a Senate committee has admitted.
The community affairs committee said that without special insurance, midwives would be unable to legally practice.
"The committee acknowledges the concerns expressed by stakeholders that an unintended consequence of this may be to drive home births underground unless an exemption is granted or an insurance product found," ...
But it said the changes should be approved regardless.
Home birth advocates said the recommendation was insane.
The proposed laws would require midwives to have professional indemnity insurance before they could be registered. But such insurance is unavailable for people who work outside hospitals.
"It categorically will be unlawful," Homebirth Australia secretary Justine Caines said.
"Without amendments, it should not pass through."
Health Minister Nicola Roxon said she was trying to secure special insurance cover that would allow midwives to work outside hospitals.
She said midwives were needed for many women to have safe births, with the level of medical interventions and unknown people involved in hospital births making it an unrealistic option for some.
"I would definitely go underground and still have a midwife if I had to," she said.
"It would increase the dangers for women because having a personal midwife means they have a duty of care.
"... you get the advice, ... feel cared for and looked after, and you have information at your fingertips."