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Greens will move to protect women’s right to choose safe homebirth

Media Release
Rachel Siewert 31 Jul 2009

The Greens will move in the Senate to protect the rights of women to choose safe homebirths if the Government does not change its proposed legislation, Australian Greens health spokesperson Senator Rachel Siewert said today.

The Greens will move amendments to legislation on midwife services when it comes into the Senate in the coming weeks to ensure that mothers continue to have the option of a homebirth with the assistance of a registered midwife, without incurring huge financial penalties.

"The Greens' amendments will allow private midwives to continue to provide safe, low risk homebirth services in full collaboration with obstetricians and other health services. The Government legislation as it stands will effectively make it illegal for a qualified midwife to attend a homebirth in Australia and imposes heavy financial penalties for the midwife," Senator Siewert said.

"This will be dangerous for mothers and babies. It flies in the face of international trends in maternity care and appears completely inconsistent with the Government's stated policy of providing pregnant women with greater choice and less interventionist maternity care."

"As it stands, the legislation will ostracise a vital part of our health provision in the community. Independent midwives are providing an outstanding service for mothers who choose to give birth to their baby at home. What this legislation will do is drive them underground - we'll see a return to the dark days of unsupervised childbirth, malpractice and the appalling tragedies that will undoubtedly follow."

The Greens broadly welcomed the Government's proposals to modernise maternity services.

"Including midwives in the Medical Benefits Schedule (MBS) and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) is a significant step forward and we welcome the proposed Commonwealth-supported professional indemnity insurance (PII) scheme, but it must include all midwives and safe birthing options," Senator Siewert concluded.

For more information or media enquiries please call Tim Norton on 0418 401 180

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