Time to refocus the homebirth debate

Lachlan J de Crespigny, Susan P Walker and Julian Savulescu
Med J Aust 2012; 197 (10): . || doi: 10.5694/mja12.11122
Published online: 19 November 2012

To the Editor: The New South Wales Coroner has recently determined that a woman’s decision to deliver at home without supervision (free birth) cost her baby her life.1 A South Australian coroner found that three fatal homebirths would not have occurred if the babies had been born in hospital.2 These avoidable tragedies are distressing, but fetuses have few ethical or legal rights; maternal autonomy includes the right to risk perinatal death.

  • 1 Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.
  • 2 University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC.


Competing interests:

No relevant disclosures.


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