Midwife Challenges Coronial Finding

Lisa BarrettAfter my supreme court appearance yesterday, Adelaide news published this article with a picture of me. I though the article was fairly well balanced, but for some reason it has been removed and at the same URL an interview with John Rau, Attorney General has been put in its place. People have linked to it in facebook etc, not knowing that the story they have linked to is now completely different.

Going, Going… Gone!

So I’m wondering why they replaced it. Wouldn’t they have simply added another story or just appended to the article. Perhaps somebody didn’t like the original and thought an alternative viewpoint preferable. Bit suspicious isn’t it?

A BABY is not born alive, but must exhibit a “clear sign of vitality” such as drawing a breath, or having a heartbeat, a court has heard.

In June, Deputy State Coroner Anthony Schapel ruled Tate Spencer-Koch was “born alive”, though she never drew breath outside her mother’s womb.

He ruled a pulseless electronic activity, which had been detected by medical machinery, was enough to determine Tate had signs of life – and his death should be subject to a coronial investigation.

The midwife who gave evidence in the inquest – saying the baby had not exhibited any signs of life – has appealed the ruling to the Supreme Court.

Dr Ian Freckleton, SC, for the midwife, today told the court signs of life included the drawing of breath, pulse, movement, crying or a heartbeat – definitions proferred in the 1800s.

He said the coroner only had the power to investigate the death of a person – which Tate was not.

“It is a finding that no reasonable coroner could make,” Dr Freckleton said.

“If the starting point is that Tate was born dead, until the contrary is proved then that is significant and the evidence from the midwife, ambulance personnel, the pathologist, two experts summonsed by the coroner … all said that none of the traits indicative of life were exhibited.”

At the time of his ruling, Mr Schapel said he drew “no distinction” between a heartbeat and an electric rhythm.

Dr Freckleton said that activity was a precursor to a heartbeat, but did not indicate the baby was ever alive.

Attorney-General John Rau, representing the Coroner’s Court, said Mr Schapel had the right to make his determination.

He said technologies currently available which can detect the electrical activity were not available when the definitions of life were founded.

Mr Rau said it “could not be correct” that the list of what constitutes life is “finite”.

He said individuals with similar electrical activity, in some circumstances could be revived.

A decision is yet to be made.

11 responses to “Midwife Challenges Coronial Finding”

  1. Hannah

    That’s scary. Plus, your picture is much nicer? Maybe the DA was cranky he didn’t get his picture in the paper?

  2. Hannah


  3. Grant

    I wonder if they cleared the “reccomend” counter on the webpage when they changed the story.

  4. Jacky Spencer

    Hi Lisa
    I had thought the same, but eventually found it. They have not inlcuded any links to the story from the one today. But finally found it after some abstract searching!

  5. Jacky spencer

    Yes I agree it was tres dodgey! And unethical and wrong and simply ignorant..for they are the Adelaide press!

  6. Sarah Stewart

    I know I am being shallow…but I must say, I think this is a lovely photo of you :)

  7. Kristi

    so sorry you are going through all of this. I am sure you all did everything you could to “revive” the baby, as the article says. We all know had this happened in a hospital, not even an eye would have batted. We are praying the Good Lord would carry you through, Blessings-Kristi

  8. Lila Stewart Wolff

    Unfortunately the name of the paper sums up where their loyalty lies, definitely not with journalistic ethics that’s for sure.
    I’m disappointed that the AG is involving himself in this case that shouldn’t even exist. Trying to rewrite the law without any regard for what that change to the law will effect beside this case could cause so many problems in other areas and of all people the AG should be aware of that.
    As for relying on the electrical impulse what sort of assurance do we have that the machinery is calibrated correctly and not taking a false reading?
    They clearly have no grounds for this and are changing the rules to suit themselves, it makes me furious and deeply sad for what they are dragging you and Tate’s family through.

  9. rose firns

    saddened that women have to fight these sorts of battles in this day and age. we have been fighting for bodily autonomy for a long time now, and there are and have been many different battlefields, birth seems to be the current one. i support you lisa and wish you the very best outcome. women need women who will be fully present with them during the most personal, intimate, vulnerable and empowering experience of their lives. and women should have the right ot choose where they feel the most comfortable and safe to give birth.