CANBERRA is reconsidering its controversial exclusion of home births from a new midwifery indemnity scheme, before a Senate challenge to the draft legislation.
Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon revealed yesterday she was looking at whether the government could accommodate home births in the $25 million indemnity scheme.
“I recognise that a very small proportion of women would like to have home births and (I) am currently investigating if there is some way that we can provide this as an option without making the proposed midwife indemnity insurance unaffordable,” she said.
The scheme was welcomed by midwives, when announced in the May budget, as a precursor to next year’s expansion of their powers to prescribe subsidised medicines, order publicly funded tests and claim Medicare rebates.
Private midwives had gone without insurance cover since the indemnity crisis at the start of the decade, putting their ability to practise at risk under a new national registration scheme for health professionals that also takes effect next year.
But support for the budget decision fractured when the draft bills revealed home births would not be covered under the new indemnity arrangements.
Not only would home birth midwives continue to lack cover, they would also for the first time be stripped of their professional registration from next July for failure to secure adequate insurance. Unregistered midwives who continue to practice beyond that date could face a $30,000 fine.
THE new head of the Australian Medical Association has said single women and gay couples should not have access to IVF.
Dr Andrew Pesce, elected AMA federal president in May, told the Sunday Herald Sun that IVF should not be a “lifestyle choice” and use of the treatment by same sex couples went against the “natural order”.
“Fertility treatment is there to treat diseases that cause infertility, it shouldn’t be there as a lifestyle choice,” Dr Pesce said.
“For example, single women (who choose IVF) don’t have a disease, they just don’t have a partner. Same-sex couples, they don’t have disease but they are using an option that gets around the natural order of things.”
Dr Pesce later contacted this newspaper and said his comments were “clumsy” and a mistake.
He said single women and same sex couples should have access to IVF, but could not give a reason for his earlier remarks.