News: Free-birth mum says inquest is a witch-hunt

Free birth advocate Janet Fraser

Free-birther whose daughter died in childbirth subject of inquest

Janet Fraser’s baby daughter died, but there is confusion whether she was stillborn or died after a home labour where Ms Fraser refused assistance from trained doctors or midwives. The New South Wales police have ‘extensively investigated’ the case and provided a detailed brief of evidence to the corner. Fairfax journalist John Elder interviewed Ms Fraser when she was in the early stages of labour. “Ms Fraser revealed in the interview that at no time during the pregnancy had she consulted a health professional. She said there had been no ultrasound, no regular weight or blood-pressure checks, and the baby’s heartbeat had never been monitored. She also said she intended delivering the baby at home without an attending midwife.

”Free-birthing, plenty of women do it,” she said. The Australian College of Midwives, in an earlier interview, had criticised Ms Fraser for ”recklessly” promoting free-birthing on the Joyous Birth website. During the interview, Ms Fraser said she didn’t expect anything to happen for another couple of days, that nothing bad happened quickly in a labour and that there would be time to get to hospital if things went wrong.

– Publisher Mia Freedman wrote a column about free birthers, Janet Fraser and angry readers. You can read that here.

WikiLeaks strikes again with massive file reveal

Wikileaks’ Julian Assange

The global whistleblower site WikiLeaks has struck again and released some five million emails from US intelligence firm Stratfor. The emails cover a period of years up until December 2011 and are said to reveal, piece-by-piece, the underhanded payments, directives for gathering intelligence through ‘unethical’ means and ‘psychological’ methods. Some of the documents also relate to Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, one of those attempting to extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on sexual assault charges that occurred in Sweden. Mr Assange is currently in London.

WikiLeaks has promised more to come, with spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson claiming that “we have a document that shows the close relationship between Carl Bildt and Washington insiders.”


Mr Bildt “will have to step down. This will be the end of his political career,” an unnamed person with access to the unpublished diplomatic cable was quoted as saying.

Scientists find cells that produce viable eggs in ovaries

Stem cells in the ovaries of adult women have been identified as those that produce what could be an ‘endless supply of eggs’. Similar research on ovaries in mice first published in 2004 was laughed at by many serious scientists who didn’t believe it could be replicated in humans. reports:

Professor Jonathan Tilly, from Harvard Medical School, has now found similar cells in the ovaries of adult women. He injected some into immune-deficient mice, to show the human stem cells would turn into viable eggs. They also could be made to mature outside of the body, in vitro.

The frozen ovary tissue came from Japanese women having a sex change, but it was not ethically nor legally feasible to put the new eggs back into a human.

Professor Tilly said the research opened up the possibility that “sometime in the future, we might get to the point of actually having an unlimited source of human eggs”.

“A woman could come in and have a small biopsy taken from her ovary for us to retrieve these cells,” he said.

“Once we get these cells out, we could take a 100 of them and make a million of them. If we could get to the stage of generating functional human eggs outside the body it would rewrite, essentially, human assisted reproduction.”

The halftime show at the 2012 Superbowl

Measles outbreak traced back to anti-vax

A ‘mini’ measles outbreak of 14 cases has been linked back to the recent football Superbowl held in the United States in which two people attended the games village with the disease before the big event. Of the 14 confirmed measles cases, 13 were unvaccinated, having refused the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine. Janine D’Arcy wrote in the Washington Post: “The most disturbing element of the mini outbreak is the potential for what might have been. Measles has an incubation period of more than a week, so hundreds of thousands of fans might have been exposed. If the measles vaccine were not as widely used as it is now, this story would not be on a parenting blog. It would be front and center on every news outlet in the country. The news comes as Australia’s own anti-vaccine network, the AVN, took a victory by default in the Supreme Court of New South Wales as Justice Adamson ruled the Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) had no right to issue a public warning about the AVN. It wasn’t a finding of accuracy in the AVN’s claims but rather one of a technicality of the legislation. You can read Mamamia’s full summary of that case here.

Senate Inquiry into teen bride visas

The number of visas granted to teenagers entering Australia for marriages is concerning enough it has prompted a Senate Inquiry. Department of Immigration figures show in the past five years, 207 of the nine-month visas were granted to 17-year-olds to allow them to enter Australia to marry, most of them women. More than 100 were from Lebanon, 23 from Macedonia and 12 from Turkey. Linda Silmalis wrote for the Sunday Telegraph: Liberal Senator Helen Kroger, who triggered the inquiry, said the Opposition was concerned the Government was sanctioning minors to enter Australia to wed.

“I have serious concerns about minors being brought to this country under the assumption of a forced marriage,” she said. Under migration laws, overseas residents can apply for a nine-month prospective marriage visa to enter Australia to marry their partner. The visa is only granted if the partner is an Australian citizen or permanent resident. Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison said the Government should not accommodate the cultural practices of other countries if they compromised the core value of equality for women.

The Department said visas were given to 17-year-olds but none were allowed to marry until they were 18.

Today is leadership D-Day

Shortly after 10am today we’ll know who will lead the Federal Labor Party as Prime Minister, though by all accounts and numbers that person will be Julia Gillard. A ballot will be held at 10am in Canberra with politicians declaring their support for either Ms Gillard or former Foreign Minister and PM Kevin Rudd. Thoughts, it seems, are already turning to how to unite the party following the vote. Ms Gillard said she believed it would happen. “I believe Labor, all of us, every one of us, will unite after Monday’s ballot,” she said. “We will unite tomorrow and we will get our shoulders to the wheel delivering Labor’s programs and plans.” Mr Rudd echoed those sentiments on Channel Nine. “If Julia is returned on Monday then she will have my unequivocal support between now and the next election because we have interests way beyond individuals here. It’s time for us to unite rather than divide.” Mamamia will be covering the events in full today. And if that isn’t enough to whet your appetite for drama, the Oscars are also held today. In a Monday MM columnist Kate Hunter has dubbed ‘Factions and Fashions’, we’ll have all the Oscars looks and buzz from the awards too.

Speaking of red carpets, Zac Effron dropped a condom at one…

You read that right. The High School Musical star was walking the red carpet at the premiere of his new film The Lorax when he reached into his pocket and accidentally let what appeared to be a condom fall out. Safe sex never looked so glitzy. The look on his face afterwards is, however, priceless.


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