Red News Readers,
It is a disturbing precedent indeed to have police called to visit a mother at home because her baby is overdue, particularly in a situation where the mother has expressed a preference for a home birth. Obstetricians have a duty of care, but that duty does not extend to overriding the mother’s autonomy, where there is no question of safety. If there was a question about safe delivery of the baby that is another matter, but from the facts presented, that does not appear to be the case. Why the police? I would have thought a visit from a community midwife or local GP more appropriate. Why did the police agree to be involved in such a civil matter?
Why did hospital send police to my door?
Kate Sikora Health Reporter From: The Daily Telegraph January 16, 2010 12:00AM
A HOSPITAL that wants a mother to have her baby induced sent police to her home after she failed to keep an appointment yesterday.
Rochelle Allan, who is reluctant to be induced even though her baby is 12 days overdue, was told by the hospital they intended to go ahead with the procedure when she came in.
But after speaking to her midwife following a visit to the hospital the day before, and being assured her baby was fine, she decided not to attend the hospital the next day.
Now Ms Allan is furious after the two police officers arrived on her doorstep after they were called by Bathurst Hospital.
Wanting a home birth, Ms Allan, 24, has been under the care of a private midwife and had been attending the hospital daily to monitor the baby's health.
"I couldn't believe it when I saw the police officers at my door," Ms Allan said.
"They told me they had been asked by the hospital to check on my welfare because I had not attended.
"The hospital knew I did not want to be induced and they gave me no medical reason why I should be."
Throughout her pregnancy, Ms Allan and her partner Daniel Jones have been regularly attending the hospital's antenatal clinic for mandatory tests and scans to monitor the baby's progress. A hospital spokeswoman confirmed police were sent to Ms Allan's house to conduct a "welfare check".
The spokeswoman said doctors were worried about the mother as she had previously complied with all appointments.
Ms Allan said that she had decided on having a home birth after a "horrific experience" at the same hospital two years ago when their son Bailey was born.
"I was induced and I spent 48 hours in labour," she said.
"I don't want to go through with that again."
Ms Allan is not against medical intervention and said she would not hesitate to deliver at the hospital if her baby's life was threatened.
"If they had told me that my baby was in danger then I would have the baby in hospital," she said.
"But they could give me no reason and all the tests show that there are no problems."
By late yesterday, Ms Allan had started labour at home and was in the care of her midwife.
The incident comes as the debate over the safety of homebirths continues, with the Federal Government under pressure to change the law to allow midwives insurance if they attend a homebirth.
Homebirths Australia secretary Justine Caines said the case demonstrated how women "are too often treated during pregnancy and birth very poorly".
The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists president Dr Ted Weaver said women were usually induced 14 days after their due date.
"If the mum did not want to be induced after 14 days then you would conduct extra tests," he said.
"The reason people get worried about going overdue is because there's a slight chance that the baby could die suddenly in utero for no reason."