Mothers have the right to a safe natural birth of their choice. Save Martina (midwife)
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Recently, a Facebook post from Ten Moons Homebirth Services Melbourne went a little viral, about an accidental twin home birth. This birth unfortunately had terrible implications for Martina, one of the attending midwives, because when mum brought her happy and healthy babies in for a check-up, a hospital staff member made a complaint, and Martina was suspended by AHPRA. This, many of us feel, is an outrageous tragedy.
The majority of Australian women prefer birthing in a hospital, with routine interventions throughout pregnancy and childbirth. A small number of women, however are not comfortable with this, and Martina provides essential, sometimes lifesaving support to these women. This petition, and its sister GoFundMe campaign, is for Martina, but it's also for these women.
Signing this petition doesn't mean you personally would want your child born at home, or born without any ultrasounds taken during the pregnancy. By signing this petition, it means you simply agree with the following points:
- Some women want an intervention-free pregnancy and birth, with minimal to no testing. These women may have had traumatic over-medicalised births, or came from cultures where birth isn't treated medically, or have otherwise educated themselves and made an informed decision. Whatever their reason, it's their body, their choice.
- What has happened to Martina at Ten Moons is grossly unjust. A midwife should *never be suspended for supporting a woman's right to informed choice, unless it becomes unsafe to do so. It is important to note that this was demonstrably not the case in this birth, as mum and babies are all happy and healthy.
- It is likely, and deeply concerning, that a number of women will choose to freebirth if Martina is taken from them, putting themselves and their babies at higher risk. By further restricting access to homebirth midwifery care, AHPRA is directly putting women and babies at risk.
- It is also concerning that future homebirth mothers may postpone taking their babies to a hospital or GP (putting babies at risk), for fear that they will inadvertently cause their beloved midwife to be suspended.
- It is beyond frustrating that hospital staff who were not present at a birth, who have received no complaint from the mother and have seen only happy and healthy babies, are able to make a complaint that results in a suspension before a Hearing occurs.
If you agree with these points, please sign this petition. If you passionately agree, please also:
- Send AHPRA an email, to further voice your concern. You can email them at: AHPRAFeedback@ahpra.gov.au
- Help support Martina's appeal against AHPRA by donating to the GoFundMe we've set up for her: www.gofundme.com/help-martina-midwife-push-back
The home birth story's facebook link, for those interested, is: https://www.facebook.com/530240987090240/posts/1852165078231151/
Update / clarification:
On Monday 29 October, Martina's offices were visited unannounced and without a prior notification by AHPRA investigations and security personnel, who wanted to immediately collect medical files, clinic computer and clinic mobiles. Martina was out of office at that time and therefore access to the requested material was not provided.
The lawyer called the AHPRA investigator soon after and obtained a grace period to provide the requested material until close of business the following day.
Then that same day in the early evening hours, Martina's lawyer received a phone call that AHPRA has scheduled an Immediate Action Committee Hearing the *next day, at lunchtime, to propose suspension in order to protect public health and safety. AHPRA called the suspension hearing without reading Martina's medical notes, or even talking to the twins' parents for their account. Their actions were based on the hospital notes only.
This timeframe would have given Martina and the lawyers no time to prepare her case, so in order to adjourn the Hearing for one week, she had to agree to an Undertaking to not practice as a midwife, which means she is not permitted to attend birth. You can see the Undertaking here:
So she's not *technically suspended right now. But neither is she allowed to work. So the reality of the situation results in the same thing, from a layperson perspective.
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