A group of angry mothers and mothers-to-be have gathered in Brisbane to discuss tactics to overturn a Federal Government proposal they say will ban home births with a midwife.
They plan to travel to Canberra on September 7 to join a predicted 3000-strong national protest against Health Minister Nicola Roxon's plan to introduce a registration scheme.
The proposal will effectively mean women who want to have their baby at home will be unable to employ a registered midwife to help with their care.
The scheme requires midwives to take out indemnity insurance, and $30,000 fines could apply to those attending births at home without the insurance.
Convener of the Queensland Home Midwifery Association Kirsten Adams said the proposed legislation overlooked the fact that the insurance had not been available for midwives in private practice since 2002, yet it was a condition of their registration.
“The proposal will effectively mean women who want to have their baby at home will be unable to employ a registered midwife to help with their care,” Ms Adams said.
“Every woman deserves the choice of whether to have a birth at home or one at a hospital or birthing centre and the Government should support that decision by finding and funding insurance cover," she said.
She rejected the argument that home births were too dangerous, citing a study released this year in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. She said the study included 529,688 cases and found no difference in the health of babies born at home to low-risk women and those born in hospital.
The travel plans of some of the protesters were disrupted when Qantas bumped them off flights after it realised too many infants had been booked on some flights.
Civil Aviation Safety Authority rules stipulate that only eight babies are allowed on each flight to match the number of infant oxygen masks available, but more than 20 babies were booked on some journeys.
Ms Roxon said that, of the 282,000 babies born in 2006, only 708 were home births.
“I recognise that a very small proportion of women would like to have home births and am currently investigating if there is some way that we can provide this as an option without making the proposed midwife indemnity insurance unaffordable,” she said.
“Our $120 million maternity services package gives families greater choice in the type of care they wish to have when having a baby and recognises the important role played by qualified midwives,” she said.
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