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The Australian Medical Association: Breaching their own position on maternal decision making

by lizzi (follow)
Helping plant the seeds of positive birth. www.sproutbirthing.com.au
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So the head of the Australian Medical Association, Western Australia (AMA, WA) Dr Michael Gannon has been at it again. Promoting his own personal judgement of women who choose homebirth as selfish and valuing the homebirth experience over the baby’s safety.

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

I have a HUGE number of concerns about this, very short, article that appeared across my newsfeed this morning.

I’m going to divide my concerns into 2 blog pieces. The next one will focus on my own personal thoughts about Dr Gannon’s comments. This one will focus on the fact that the president of the AMA, WA actually appears to be breaching the AMA’s own position statement on maternal decision making.

Yep. The AMA has a position statement on maternal decision making. I’d love to bring everyone’s attention to the following points included within:

1) A pregnant woman has the same rights to privacy, to bodily integrity, and to make her own informed, autonomous health care decisions as any competent individual, consistent with the legal framework of that jurisdiction.

This includes our right to choose where, how and with whom to birth our babies. It also includes our right to choose which medical treatments and surgeries we will consent to. And the “informed” part means that we have the right to ALL information when making these choices. Information like: The caesarean rate at the hospital; the induction rate; the risks associated with a hospital birth; the risks associated with a homebirth; And we also have the right to decide which risks we are most comfortable with. We have a right to use our BRAIN (benefits, risks, alternatives, intuition, next). Even if Dr Gannon doesn’t agree with our assessment and decision.

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

4) Throughout pregnancy, a woman will make health care decisions regarding lifestyle behaviours, as well as medical treatments, that impact on her own health and well-being, as well as that of the fetus…Medical treatments include, but are not limited to, use of medication, birthing choices, maternal surgery and fetal surgery.

Yes...that’s right. The woman.

And point 9) is probably the most obviously ignored one here.

The doctor must respect the woman’s informed decision, even if it is not consistent with the doctor’s advice, and continue to provide patient support.

I don’t think that going to a newspaper and telling everyone that women who make a choice you don’t agree with are “selfish” is very respectful. Nor is saying that these women are “preoccupied with the few hours of the birth rather than the bigger picture of their child’s long-term welfare.” Nor is it respectful to accuse these women of being “willing to take on extra risks because they feel it part of their experience of womanhood.” And let’s not even go into the point about the community being allowed to dictate a woman’s birthing choices. Seriously?!

My biggest concerns here are that:

a) Dr Gannon is not familiar with his own organisation’s position statement on maternal decision making.

b) Dr Gannon knows about the position statement but chooses not to follow it.

c) The AMA continues to support someone who very obviously has no respect for their own position on maternal decision making.

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

I would really like to ask why Dr Michael Gannon is still the head of the AMA in WA?

Given his very obvious lack of respect for the AMA position on maternal decision making, I think that this is a very valid question.

How can the birthing women of Australia be expected to take the AMA seriously when one of their own senior members is so publicly breaking their own rules? If the AMA is going to support Dr Gannon in his breach of their position then how can we feel that we will be safe under their care? I hear from women time and time again about how doctors are not following the AMA position…I guess we know why. The AMA wrote a position statement that they don’t actually feel is important enough to uphold.

If the AMA wants the birthing women of Australia to take them seriously then they have some major damage control to do. Ceasing the support and protection of those who breach their position on maternal decision making would be a good start.


Further reading:

The Australian Medical Association needs to get real

Obstetric violence: Stop burying your head in the sand!

Obstetric violence: Victim blaming, victim shaming

Obstetric violence: Assigning responsibility

What being bullied says about you

A letter to my midwife

My midwife betrayed me, giving me a beautiful gift
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