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Yarra Valley Women Want Birth Choices

Article from the Upper Yarra Mail, 21 July 2009
UPPER Yarra residents have formed a lobby group to bump out proposed
federal legislation that could restrict natural birth choices for
Australian women.

More than 20 parents from the Yarra Valley Birthing Choice (YVBC) lobby
group met with Gembrook MP Tammy Lobato last Wednesday 15 July to
express their concern.

YVBC group member and birth attendant Julie Bell said government plans
could see independent midwives, who provide homebirth services, face
large fines and possible imprisonment.

Independent midwives who provide homebirth services will be excluded
from new legislation that provides Medicare numbers and professional
indemnity insurance to midwives.

“Since practising without insurance will become illegal under the new
legislation, independent midwives will be effectively prevented from
providing homebirth services after July 1 2010 and could face a penalty
of $30,000 and up to two year jail,” Ms Bell said.

She said if the legislation is passed it would drive the practise of
homebirth underground.

“By excluding independent midwives from the arrangements for indemnity
insurance, the effect would be to criminalise home birth and narrow
natural birth alternatives for women,” she said.

“It would eliminate any alternative to a hospital birth.”

Warburton resident and birth attendant Stef Arvanitakis is 20 weeks
pregnant and said that if the legislation is passed it would also be a
huge step backwards for women’s rights and for human rights.

“It would be an immense insult to the rights and liberties of Australian
families if it is passed,” Ms Arvanitakis said.

Her two older children were also born at home and she said it’s a
woman’s right to chose where she gives birth.

Warburton resident and midwife Gretta Harris is 35 weeks pregnant and is
planning a home birth for her third child.

“From knowledge and research I know that home birth is the safest option
for someone having a straightforward pregnancy,” Ms Harris said.

Ms Harris has experienced homebirths first hand as a student and by
having her two older children at home.

As a recently qualified midwife she said with talks of the new
legislation her plans to be a home birth midwife are now up in the air.

“It was something I had planned on going into, however, it’s pretty
uncertain at the moment,” she said.

Gembrook MP Tammy Lobato said her interest in the issue stemmed from the
concerns of Upper Yarra residents and the lack of choice in the proposed

“I think that women and their partners are smart enough to be able to
know what their bodies are capable of — women are intelligent enough to
know that,” Ms Lobato said.

“They’re also intelligent enough to know that if their pregnancy isn’t
going according to plan, and unexpected complications arise, that they
would obtain intervention if required.”

“I’m concerned that there’s an amount of control being placed over women
and their bodies through this proposal.”

YVBC is holding a public meeting on Friday 24 July at Cafe 8 in Yarra
Junction from 9.30am
onwards to inform people about the implications of
this legislation.

For more information or to RSVP please phone 0418 312 920.

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