Home birth Bill is open to legal challenge

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CAMPAIGNERS FOR better maternity services have warned that the Nurses and Midwives Bill currently going through the Oireachtas will end up in constitutional challenges.

The Bill, which contains controversial provisions for home births in the State, is due before the Seanad, having passed without amendment at committee stage last week. The Home Birth Association of Ireland, the Community Midwives Association and AIMS (Association for Improvements in Maternity Services) Ireland are among the groups lobbying for changes to the Bill.

... The most controversial provision would make it compulsory for an expectant mother who wishes to have a home birth to go to hospital if her labour lasts longer than 24 hours. The midwife attending could face a fine or a prison sentence if they do not comply.

Draft guidelines seen by AIMS Ireland could also lead to circumstances where the Garda is called if a midwife is refused entry by a mother who is in labour. ... “We cannot coerce women into hospital. If we are in a situation where as professionals we believe it would be safer to attend to the mother, we will do so. We are not prepared to withdraw care because that would compromise the mother and baby, and would be against our practice standards for midwives.”

Melissa Maimann, Essential Birth Consulting 0400 418 448