Friday, July 3, 2009
Doctor knows best, sweeties
Yesterday I received a text from the darling Clare Bowditch to tell me her blood was boiling.
The source of the heat was this unusually soft interview on Radio National's Life Matters yesterday with the first female president of the National Association of Specialist Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (NASOG), Dr Hilary Joyce.
I suppose there was no point expecting that a female gyno would suddenly be transforming the entrenched, male-dominated attitude of the profession. But Dr Joyce may as well be a man, considering the paternalistic attitude she has towards “our women”. So much for the milestone.
Statistics must be maintained at all costs, it seems — after all, women can’t be trusted to make sensible, considered choices about the kind of birth they want to have.
“What is important is that the wonderful obstetric safety record of this country is not undermined by any … alteration in delivery of models of care.”
The fact that we enjoy the safest services in the world is directly attributable to the majority of births being medically led, according to Dr Joyce.
Homebirths are chosen by a “tiny percentage” of the Australian women, she claims, but receive undue attention largely because “of the over-representation of tragedies that occur”.
She has "grave concerns" about those “willing to put themselves and their unborn children at such risk” by avoiding medical intervention.
“We mustn’t be looking at turning the clock back in any way to perhaps more so-called natural childbirth…. It’s essential that there’s a doctor in the loop.”
And then the hypocrisy to complain that the Government is taking away a woman’s right to choice in getting rid of the safety net for private hospital birthing!
Medical intervention is not required in the vast majority of births, and midwives are trained to assess the risks. To imply that a return to “natural births” would be a return to the mortality rates seen at the turn of the century is misleading in the extreme.
While occasionally a baby dies during a homebirth — and this is desperately sad — is this a good argument for ruling out homebirths altogether as an option? Babies also die in hospitals.
I have had one of each — a homebirth and a hospital birth. Both have their place. Surely what’s most important is the right for women to make informed choices about how and where they give birth.
It is taking away this right that will send us back to the turn of the century for women.
You can read Clare's very eloquent open letter to Minister Nicola Roxon here. And if this issue matters to you, please sign Homebirth Australia's petition.