Baby could have been saved: coroner

A CORONER has found that a baby girl born to a leading Australian home-birth advocate would have survived had she been delivered by a qualified nurse or midwife.

On March 27 , 2009, Joyous Birth founder Janet Fraser gave birth to baby Roisin at her Sydney home.

Her partner, Trevor Stokes, phoned 000 to say Roisin was not breathing. Hours later, the newborn was pronounced dead at the Prince Alfred Hospital.

During the inquest into Roisin's death, counsel assisting the coroner Kelly Rees said it was the view of nurses and doctors familiar with the case that the baby could have survived had a qualified midwife been present at her birth.

On Thursday morning, Deputy State Coroner Scott Mitchell said while there was no doubt the loss of child would haunt Ms Fraser for life, the decision to give birth without professional help had cost Roisin her life.

He said Roisin likely died when the umbilical cord became tangled around her neck.

While Ms Fraser was not present at the hearing, Mr Mitchell expressed his concern about the "propaganda" she was peddling on the Joyous Birth website.

He said one article about the "dangers" of midwives and nurses read: "Shove an arm in a woman who's screaming 'no,' rupture the membranes because you have to tick the box and comply with 'protocol' even when the woman screams 'no,' slash a woman's vagina with scissors and she's screaming 'no'."

The piece goes on to say: "Your green gown - your stupid hospital gowns - will not protect you".

Mr Mitchell said whether or not the views expressed on the website were still Ms Fraser's views, they were "wrong views, extravagantly expressed and quite insensitive to the harm they may do to others, (particularly) inexperienced mothers or children like Roisin whose chance of life was so unnecessarily put at risk".

The inquest was the second to spark a national home birth debate this month.

On June 6, South Australian Deputy Coroner Anthony Schapel found the death of three babies could have been avoided had they been born in hospital and not under the supervision of home-birth advocate Lisa Barrett.

When handing down his decision Mr Schapel called on the South Australian Minister for Health to introducing legislation to protect mothers and children from the dangers of unassisted births.

His recommendations included making it an offence for a person to act as a midwife without being registered in accordance with national guidelines, appointing a "Supervisor of Midwives" and investigating the potential benefits of an "alternative birthing centre".

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