Government backs down over homebirthing legislation

For further information, contact Melissa Maimann at Essential Birth Consulting. Link

The Federal Government has backed down on controversial legislation that would have seen homebirthing effectively made illegal.

... Under the draft laws, midwives must be insured to join the register but private insurers no longer provide cover for homebirthing and the government has also refused to subsidise professional indemnity for homebirth claims.

As a result, up to 200 independent midwives faced deregistration from July 2010 and, if they continued working, risked fines of up to $30,000.

... following a meeting of state and territory health ministers ... Nicola Roxon announced a two year exemption from holding indemnity insurance for privately practising midwives who can't obtain cover for attending a homebirth.

To take advantage of the exemption, homebirthing midwives will be required to tell women they are not insured, report each homebirth they attend and participate in a quality and safety framework which will be developed after consultations led by the Victorian government.

... "I was concerned that as an unintended consequence of the national registration and accreditation process that homebirthing may be driven underground, that that would not be a good outcome.

"This arrangement agreed to today ensures that homebirthing midwives can lawfully continue to provide their services in jurisdictions where that's allowed."

That's concerning .... where is it allowed?

Ms Roxon said the government would ask the National Nursing and Midwifery Board to give advice on protocols for homebirthing outside the public health system.

I don't believe anyone on the new Board is a private midwife who attends home births. And I question the wisdom of inviting nurses to have input into the midwifery profession. Are optometrists asked to give comment on psychology practice?

"We have a process to be able to work further on protocols that would either bring more homebirthing services into our public system or potentially open the way in the future for an insurance product to be extended to cover them," she said.

I have a better idea. Keep hospital birth in the hospitals, and keep home birth at home. If private home birth is allowed to continue legally, then we ought to promote private home birth services, not the public hospital services that cater best to risk-associated pregnancies.

"This two year exemption allows plenty more time for those protocols to be established and worked on."

... "We've undertaken a maternity services review process which did not recommend that public funding be provided for homebirthing and we stick by that advice," she said.

Home birth has never been funded by the Govt.

Melissa Maimann, Essential Birth Consulting 0400 418 448