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Monday, 15 March 2010
Page: 1851


Senator XENOPHON (9:48 PM) —There is no question that the very debate we are having in this chamber tonight on the Health Legislation Amendment (Midwives and Nurse Practitioners) Bill 2009 has similarly been held in homes, cafes, offices and around the water cooler by Australians around the country—men and women alike—and by those with or without children. I certainly know that in my own office we have had some extensive discussions that have, at times, been robust about this very issue. There are so many aspects to this debate: the right for a woman to decide how to give birth; the right for a child to be born safely into this world; the purported risks of both home births and medical intervention; and the claimed benefits of natural birth and of delivery in hospital, to name but a few. In many ways, this debate has gone far beyond these pieces of legislation. While the debate in the media has certainly been focused on the impact these bills will have on home births, this legislation will impact on midwifery, full stop.

Over the past few months I have been contacted by dozens of families, as I am sure many of my colleagues have, who want to share their experiences of pregnancy and of delivering their baby at home with a midwife. In fact, I have had literally hundreds of emails on this particular topic. They have told me about the trust and bond they shared with their midwife throughout their pregnancy and how safe they felt during the delivery of their child.

Debate interrupted.