Historic maternity laws tabled in Queensland

Maternity laws introduced in Queensland yesterday would provide a new model for newborn baby and birthing parent care.
Queensland maternity laws

Queensland could become the first state to count babies as separate patients to their birth parent when they’re staying in the same hospital room, under draft laws tabled yesterday.

Expanded abortion access has also been proposed in the draft laws.

Queensland maternity laws

The legislation proposes introducing minimum staffing ratios of one midwife to every six patients in maternity wards.

The draft laws clarify the status of a newborn baby as a separate patient to their birthing parent when staying in a maternity ward. This will also apply to babies who aren’t born alive and extends to very preterm births.

Abortion access

The draft laws also propose allowing registered nurses and midwives to perform early medical abortions in Queensland.

This would allow midwives and nurses to prescribe, administer, and supply abortion drugs up to nine weeks’ gestation. Doctors will remain the only health practitioners able to perform surgical and medical terminations after that period.

Queensland’s Minister for Health and Women Shannon Fentiman said: “Nurses and midwives have the necessary skills, experience, qualifications and training to be able to undertake this important role and provide greater access to reproductive healthcare, particularly in rural and remote communities.”

The draft law comes after Australia’s medical regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration, made changes to allow any appropriate health practitioner to prescribe MS-2 Step, the medical abortion drug, provided that the state or territory allows it.

Will it pass?

The legislation was introduced yesterday, and was immediately referred to a Parliamentary Committee for further scrutiny.

The Committee will provide a report on the draft laws, which will influence potential amendments to the legislation.

The Labor Government has a majority of seats in Queensland Parliament – where there is only one house – meaning they can pass the draft laws without any additional support.

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