21 responses to “The definition of life – Supreme Court”

  1. Natalie Weir

    I never had a home birth but I know so many ladies who have, and to them it was a beautiful and magical experience. For them to take away peoples rights to choose where they give birth is disgusting! I hope you win and I support you 100%!

  2. Gloria Lemay

    In 1985, my partner Mary and I went through a 6 year court case here in Canada which was incredibly expensive both to us and our government. It is so daunting for an individual to be up against the “powers that be”. We were completely acquitted of all charges by the Supreme Court of Canada in 1991. I look back on those 6 years as a very bad dream.

    What was explained to us as the reason why laws are enacted to determine when the fetus becomes a “person under the law” is that no doctor would attend a birth in the hospital if he/she could be criminally prosecuted for ‘negligence’ if a baby died during birth. Doctors have been known to work drunk, drugged or otherwise impaired and, even then, they are not charged criminally (civil cases can be brought but that is a very different matter from criminal).

    Because all people are supposed to be “equal under the law” it becomes a dilemma when a baby is stillborn with a midwife because then, some physicians want to make a different law for the midwives. That is illegal, of course, but doesn’t stop them from long expensive and highly publicized legal wrangling.

    The newspapers are the worst enemy because they want to “sell” stories and the stories that the public wants to read are as shocking and accusatory as possible. I have never spent a nickel on a newspaper since I went through my court case. The only time I read a paper is if someone else leaves it behind in a coffee shop. I know how dishonest their reports are.

    Can you put the address and info for donating money here again so we can do more fundraising? This is an important case for everyone. Thanks for being willing to do it, Lisa. At the end of the day, it will come out right but the middle part is not fun. Love Gloria Lemay, Vancouver, BC Canada

  3. Lennon

    Yes, please do post the information for donating money again. This is indeed an important case for everyone, but we also just want to support you through it.

  4. paule bezaire

    oh, lisa… i’m thinking about you. i’m trying to run this through my head, my husband’s, and my mentors… in the US, if the parents were sovereign, the coroner wouldn’t have jurisdiction. i’m wondering if you can be sovereign in australia.

    what’s next ~ claiming jurisdiction over an act of God?

    i’m wondering if there isn’t something that the parents of the child that died could do… they have a right under God to choose the provider they want ~ or UC, right? what is the UC status in australia? (i guess this might be irrelevant, as i suspect that deeming UC illegal is unconstitutional)

    you are in my prayers…




  5. imelda douglas

    I had my first child twenty one years ago, with the help of a de-registered homebirth doctor.It is my understanding that the reason he had been de-registered was in relation to the death of a child in a homebirth situation. In all the intervening years, has nothing changed? Yes, it has… it seems to have gotten worse. A womans choice is apparently a contradiction in terms in relation to the birthing process.

  6. Doula lou

    I’ve been following this sad story, and I’m still a bit confused by what it is you feel will be lost or gained if the inquest is pursued.

    If the baby had a vigorous heartbeat prior to becoming stuck in the birth canal, and it took 20 (or 40 as I’ve read in some media) minutes for the baby’s body to be fully birthed after her head had already been birthed, isn’t the cause of her death due to the shoulder dystocia and the subsequent loss of oxygen as a result of the umbilical cord being constricted?

    I’m confused why you would choose to claim that she was a stillborn baby when she was not stillborn when her head had been birthed. What is the benefit to anyone, doctor or midwife, to claim she was stillborn if she did, indeed, die from being stuck and losing oxygen? This seems acutely different than a baby that dies prior to the onset of labor.

    This is a very sad case for all involved, and I am a homebirth advocate. I just fail to see how this is an issue that sheds favorable light on midwives at all. Can you explain further? I’m genuinely interested.

    Kind regards,

  7. Ambo

    You mention you were up against the Ambulance Service… could you explain this a bit more. Im a Ambo, have been involved in a resuscitation of an infant after a home water birth (I was a nurse before becoming an Ambo). Im not against home births per say (and believe in choice). Jst wonder why are the ambo;s giving you grief (I gather it was their moinitor that detected PEA)?

  8. Legal eagle

    A coronial investigation is initiated the state believes that there is something to be gained from the inquiry which can prevent similar events occurring in the future. The majority actually involve deaths in hospital but also include gaols, nursing homes and psychiatric institutions. Road accidents and construction mishaps like the Riverside Golf club collapse are also included. The purpose is not to prosecute but a process of discovery and to protect the public interest. Although he has great power to subpoena documents and witnesses, none of his recommendations are legally binding. The process is transparent to the public and reports are available for viewing online.

  9. Legal eagle

    If the baby had transient signs of life after delivery but then expired shortly after, would it be a coroner’s case?

  10. Legal eagle

    Do you believe that the original legal interpretation of life outdated in the light of current medical understanding and ought to be revised in the future?

  11. Legal eagle

    “Check out deaths from Shoulder dystocia and see. Will every baby at the hospital that is still born (3000 in Australia last year) be checked for a PEA?”

    I would say that if you recorded fetal heart tones during labour then the baby should be considered alive whether or not there are signs of life when baby is delivered. In answer to your question I think it is quite reasonable for rthe Coroner to investigate shoulder dystocia hospital deaths using the above crieria. If the process helps us identify babies at risk this may then reduce the number of deaths that occur each year. I think a stillbirth should be labeled as such if there is no fetal heart beat noted at the onset of labour or prior to it commencing. It may not be a Coroner’s case but certainly an issue that is worth researching.

  12. Legal eagle

    Risk factors associated with shoulder dystocia:


    4500 g = 22.6% chance

    Coronial conclusions are a separate issue to the public interest of coronial investigations.

  13. Gloria Lemay

    Legal eagle, I went to the document you quote and I think you’re being disingenous by posting only a part of that information. Are you really interested in an intelligent interchange of information. The part you mention pertains to babies who are extracted with forceps or vacuums. That is not applicable to this case.

    Also, later in the item posted it says:
    Begin Quoted material: “So, can shoulder dystocia be reliably predicted?

    Up until this year, both the short and the long answer to this question would have been: “No”. Nowhere in the literature were there studies that showed that the sensitivity or positive predictive value for predicting shoulder dystocia was high enough to justify interventions. While macrosomia, diabetes, prolonged second stage of labor, instrumental delivery, and other factors do indicate a statistically increased risk of having a shoulder dystocia, their low positive predictive value and high false positive rate make them clinically useless as tools for predicting — and hence trying to prevent — shoulder dystocia.” end of quoted material.

  14. Legal eagle

    Gloria, it may be impossible to have a tool with 100%. This commercial-in-confidence multivariate tool claims 50-70% sensitivity and > 97% PPV. However, the important philosophical question is at what level of potential risk would be considered excessive when immediate intervention facilities are not available. People may accept a high risk but informed consent dictates they should be aware of it prior to undertaking that option.