Thursday, May 31, 2012
Women need midwives and midwives need more autonomy
I have currently just completed a Human Rights assignment and this got me thinking even more about the dilemma in Australia particularly in WA with Medical dominance, the strength and power of the AMA and the deliberate non engagement with private midwives for collaboration. It seems that the obstetricians are happy with the status-quo that is monopolizing childbirth - remembering in WA the uptake of private health insurance is approx 40%, (people think if they have private health insurance they get better care and value for money) and 99% of women want to birth in a hospital. WA has less than 1% of women who are choosing homebirth - with these small numbers and the high uptake of private health insurance, together with the failure of GP's to refer women to midwives, as they only refer to obstetricians..... it seems the only way forward for both women and midwives may be a Human Rights approach.
Continuity of midwifery care is almost absent in WA. The lack of autonomy for midwives whether they work in a hospital or as a private midwife in Australia is shameful. Even worse is the denigration of women's right to choose place of birth no matter what the risk and be afforded the right to have a midwife support that choice is non existent. Clearly the midwife would need some support if it was 'high risk' as this would be outside the scope of practice - this is where a supervision model would be beneficial similar to the UK. But instead women are pushed to the brink and birth alone without a health professional present. The question is who will protect the midwife who chooses to support the woman when she chooses outside of the recommended boundaries? Next question is who protects the fetus when things go wrong.... yes I know the fetus has no rights until born alive, but this rule is being challenged each time there is an adverse outcome.... watch this space.... This brings me to the first ever Human Rights in Childbirth Conference being held in the Hague...as I write this blog....I have paid to be part of the webinar but alas it is not working.... will have to do a blog on it when I finally get to listen to it. This conference is going to debate and discuss all the issues surrounding place of birth, maternal fetal conflicts and rights - how fascinating... I truly wished I could attend.
As I have stated before there is no legislation in Australia that will protect the midwife if she chooses to support the 'high risk' woman at home. The midwife would more than likely be reported under the current Health Practitioners Regulation National Law Act 2010, be disciplined, which could mean a fine, restrictions on his/her practice or de-registered.
I am hoping that out of the Hague conference will come some true discussion from the lawyers, midwives, academics, doulas and who ever else is contributing to the conference about the maternal / fetal debate and the right of women to choose where and how they want to birth - and what happens in the countries where true choice is not valued. Here's hoping..........................