Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Every woman's birth choices are jeapordised

(re posted with authors permission)

Australian Government , Violating The Fortelesa Declaration

The Australian Government is in the process of violating the human rights of Australian women. They are doing this through the latest Maternity Services Review which stands to extensively restrict the choices women have with regard to where they give birth and who they can hire to be their medical care provider. The recommendations of the Maternity Services Review stand in violation of The World Health Organisation's Fortelesa Declaration. In particular, article one which states:

1. The whole community should be informed about the various procedures in birth care, to enable each woman to choose the type of birth care she prefers. And the opening statement of the declaration which states:

Birth Is Not An Illness
These 16 recommendations are based on the principle that each woman has a fundamental right to receive proper prenatal care: that the woman has a central role in all aspects of this care, including participation in the planning, carrying out and evaluation of the care: and that social, emotional and psychological factors are decisive in the understanding and implementation of proper prenatal care.

The latest Maternity Services Review in Australia is removing the rights of Australian women by refusing to publicly fund home births, thus restricting the availability of home birth to many Australian families. And forcing independent midwives to be part of a national registration scheme. This registration will include mandatory professional indemnity insurance for all midwives, the alternative is to practice midwifery unlawfully.

In order for midwives to access professional indemnity insurance they must work within a "collaborative team", however no definition of "collaborative team" has been provided. It is possible that "collaborative team" could mean not working independently (as many homebirth midwives do) in which case insurance would not be available to these midwives and their decision to attend homebirths could lead to prosecution and incarceration.
The Maternity Services Review clearly states that these decisions were based on presumptions of risk for homebirth. No medical evidence was consulted regarding homebirth and the review goes as far as to make the outlandish claim that there is no medical evidence which they could base their judgments on.
Ultimately The Australian Government has furthered obstetricians' monopoly over maternity care and has prioritised the medical model of maternity care over the midwifery model, despite the fact that the midwifery model is the safer model for the majority of women. By further empowering the already powerful players in Australia's maternity system, The Australian Government has aggressively restricted the rights and freedoms of birthing women. Perplexing behaviour for a government committed to raising the national birth rate!

For Those Of You Who Don't Homebirth

At this time I refer to the author of Empowering Birth Blog's reinterpretation of "First They Came For The Jews":

"First they came for the unassisted birthers, but I did not speak out,
because I do not free-birth.

Then they came for those who birth at home with lay midwives, but I
would would not speak out, because I would not have a home-birth with a lay

Then they came for those who birthed with Certified Professional
Midwives, and I would not speak out, because I would not have a home-birth with a CPM.

And then they came for those who birthed in birth centers and with
Certified Nurse Midwives, but I would not speak out because I would not have a
birth in a birth center or with a CNM.

And then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for

When one woman's human rights are attacked, all human rights are attacked! No one is safe when a government takes to such heavy regulation of the choices women make with regard to their bodies, their babies and their birth experiences!

What Can You Do?
You can send your letters of disgust and demand to The Department of Health and Aging:
Central Office postal address
GPO Box 9848,
Canberra ACT 2601,

And your feedback to Maternity.Services.Review@health.gov.au

And The Office For Women:
Australian Government Office for Women
Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs
PO Box 7576
Canberra Business Centre
ACT 2610
Telephone 1300 653 227 Facsimile +61 6212 9572Email women@fahcsia.gov.au

Send them to the parties in opposition to the current government as well:
The Liberal Party

The Greens

The Democrats

Family First

What Women Want

(I do not endorse any of these parties. I provide links to them so that readers have access to the information required to contact political power holders in Australia in order to apply pressure to these groups and individuals to do something to change this unacceptable position Australian women and independent midwives find themselves in).

Please also read more about others thoughts, opinions and explanations about the review here at Bustin' Out Baby and also here at Confession Time.
Lisa, at Homebirth ~ A Midwife Mutiny talks about the Review from a Midwives perspective, thank you Lisa.


Whispering Writer said...

To presume to tell us how we can and cannot birth is utterly outrageous and I have to say that I am shocked that they would even try (naive, much?), considering women are now more informed and empowered on their birth choices and will stand up for their right to exercise that knowledge through choosing what is right for them and their baby.
Do you mind if I link to this post for others to read?

Hearts and Hands said...

Oh absolutely WW, please spread the word as far and wide as you can.
Like we are all saying, this is not just about women wanting to birth at home with a midwife, this is about ALL women and their choices aout their own bodies.
What next after this?
We all need to stand together and be strong. We want support with the choices we make. We are more than just dollar signs for the high and mighty. We are real people.