Justine Caines, Secretary of Homebirth Australia, has sent in the
following critique of recent media coverage about the dangers of homebirth:
“Feminism is a dirty word, especially if you are a pro-establishment
columnist. Last week many media reports questioned the safety of homebirth.
Doctors were outraged at the death of 4 babies, without revealing any case
facts. Many have regarded women as incubators.
Not one mainstream piece has explored why a number of women feel the need to
give birth without any health professional, nor have they explored simple
tested legal concepts of informed consent and right of refusal.
It would seem far more sensible to herd all women into hospitals where they
can be controlled. Women cannot be trusted, especially those who challenge
the fierce medical domination of childbirth.
As an owner of a female body, I have taken it for a test run seven times. As a healthy woman, I have chosen to use limited medical technologies, and resisted others. I took
ultimate control of my body and became responsible for the life growing
As a parent I continue to tread that path of rights and responsibilities.
I paid a price, however. My decision to give birth at home with a
registered midwife was not respected or funded. At the same time my taxes
paid for a system controlled by medicine. A system with virtually no
accountability, as illustrated by the case involving Dr Graeme
This case was extreme but lower level violence continues in maternity
wards every day. The prominent columnist Miranda Devine mocked this
violence. How can this be tolerated?
With this environment how could a woman previously damaged by the system
We have a maternity health system that leaves one in 4 women experiencing
birth as a ‘battlefield’ and suffering debilitating post natal depression or
even post-traumatic stress disorder, usually reserved for soldiers and
victims of crime.
Whilst women cry out for a mainstream midwifery option that puts their needs
first, the medical establishment remains largely unaccountable.
Federal Health Minister, Nicola Roxon put her toe in the water, by
announcing a maternity services review. As expected, there were hundreds of
submissons from the women who have been denied their rights and are funding
services for others.
Yet pro-establishment columnists denounce them as a ‘vocal minority’ and
continue to deny them equity.
As a woman and lawyer, Nicola Roxon is well placed to design a maternity
system with the established principles of informed consent and right of
refusal at the centre.
Medical lobby groups use arguments about women’s “safety and wellbeing” in
order to tightly hold power and control. They have no track record of
respecting women’s rights. Instead they engage in shroud waving and cripple
women with unnecessary fear.
Neither the church nor the state has the right to control a woman’s body.
Maternity reform must be based on the 3 R’s: rights, responsibilities and
Consumers have the right to a funded registered health professional in any
setting, and the responsibility to demonstrate they have made informed
decisions. They deserve these decisions be respected.
Health professionals have the right to funding and to give clinical advice
based on evidence. They have a responsibility to be satisfied that
consent/refusal was informed. They deserve the respect of the woman as an
educated professional but ultimately this respect must be reciprocated to
provide healthcare according to woman’s intent.”