A judge compared this couple's difficult childbirth to 'buying a bag of chips.'

Anthony and Kate Hinton were just like any couple preparing for the birth of their first child — a little anxious, thoroughly prepared, and excited.

But then the hospital refused Anthony something afforded to every soon-to-be father: the chance to communicate with doctors during the birth.

As a deaf man, Anthony was relying on the hospital to provide an Auslan interpreter so he could actively participate in the delivery room. However, the request was denied by Westmead Private Hospital.

If that wasn’t enough of a blow, the couple launched a disability discrimination suit only to have it described by the presiding judge as “trifle” and “nothing more than a try-on”.

During his dismissal of the case in February, Federal Court Judge Alexander Street also suggested that the couple’s request to the hospital was equivalent to asking a shopkeeper to provide an interpreter when “buying a bag of chips”, reports The Sydney Morning Herald.

Now, that controversial ruling has been overturned by the Full Court of the Federal Court of Australia, a move that’s being hailed as a victory not just for the Hintons but for the entire deaf community.

Kate Hinton launched the suit against Westmead Private Hospital in late 2015, claiming staff were unable to provide her hearing-impaired husband with an interpreter during the birth of their first baby earlier that year.

“I explained how important it was for him to have an interpreter, because if anything were to go wrong he would need to make decisions on my behalf and if he doesn’t know what is happening he can’t really do that,” Kate Hinton previously told Fairfax media.


The couple were forced to switch to Westmead Public three-quarters of the way through their pregnancy, where they were provided an Auslan interpreter at no cost.

“I turned up prepared to fight my case but they just said, ‘Yes, no worries, we’ll organise that for you’,” Mrs Hinton said. “I almost burst into tears.”

This interpreter proved integral to the May 24 birth of little Abigail, as complications arose that required her to be transferred to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

“I am Abigail’s parent also so I need to know what is happening to her just as much as my wife needs to know,” Mr Hinton said. “We are a team.”

Anthony and Abigail. Image: Facebook.

In the Full Court ruling earlier this week Judges Berna Collier, Jayne Jagot and Melissa Perry rejected Judge Street's characterisation of the case, and permitted it to proceed under the Disability Discrimination Act.

"It is hardly a 'trifle' (and still less, equivalent to buying a 'bag of chips') for a woman not to be able to deliver her baby in the hospital of her choice, merely because the hospital refuses to provide her husband with the interpreter required to ensure he can participate in the birth in the same way that a woman with a partner who can hear would be able to participate," the Full Court decision read.

It has been ordered that Judge Street will not hear the case.

Featured image: Facebook