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Barrister to lead childbirth debate

Barrister to lead childbirth debate

A human rights barrister from the UK will open a conference tackling the legal issues facing women at childbirth in Sydney this Friday (12 October).

A human rights barrister from the UK will open a conference tackling the legal issues facing women at childbirth this Friday (12 October).

Elizabeth Prochaska (pictured) will be a keynote speaker at the Childbirth and Law Forum to be held in Parramatta. Prochaska is launching Birthrights, an organisation devoted to protecting and promoting human rights in childbirth, this year. She regularly advises women and health professionals in this area.

“Human rights law has a very valuable role to play in improving maternity services around the world, both by promoting women’s autonomy and dignity and protecting midwives’ right to practice their profession autonomously,” she said.

Hosted by the Australian College of Midwives, Maternity Coalition and Homebirth Australia, the event will also feature Dr John Seymour, adjunct professor in the ANU College of Law, who acted as the Commissioner in Charge of the Australian Law Reform Commission’s inquiry into child welfare law in the ACT.

Following the keynote presentations, panellists of women, doctors, midwives, lawyers and ethicists will discuss the role of regulation in protecting women, unborn babies and health professionals.

“In bringing together a diverse group ... we hope to tackle some of the difficult issues in this area,” said Ann Catchlove, solicitor and national president of Maternity Coalition, a national consumer advocacy organisation focused on maternity care.

Writer and social commentator Catherine Deveny, who is also the conference MC, claimed that “there is a crisis in Australian birthing”.

“It is a medical, legal and ethical one ... women are being bullied, manipulated and lied to about their birthing options. It’s time for a rigorous discussion about the whole system.”

A screening of the new film Freedom for Birth and a Q&A with its directors in London, Alex and Toni Harman, will follow the panel discussions.

For more information on this event visit www.childbirthandthelaw.org

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