Pregnant patients' rights

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Pregnant patients rights refers to the choices and legal rights available to a person experiencing pregnancy or childbirth. This specifically refers to those under medical care within a medical establishment or those under the care of a medical professional regardless of location (under care of paramedics at home, family doctor via phone, etc.).

There are many debates that arise from pregnancy rights, ranging from whether or not fertility treatments are 'right' or whether using surrogates is wrong. It comes down to the birthing person's rights. As a pregnant person, there are more challenges than just the fundamentals of the decisions surrounding their pregnancy. Maternity leave, parental leave and the time allotted for these leaves varies from company to company.[1]

The International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) gathered in Cairo in September 1994 to discuss and "formulate a consensus position on population and development for the next 20 years".[2] One of the other goals was to make education and medical services available to people while they are pregnant, and when the time comes, have delivery options available. A main concern has always been postnatal care; people think that the hardest part is the birth of the child, but there are so many additional concerns once the child is born. Complications both prior to pregnancy, during delivery, and after delivery are a potential concern in all births, the ICPD talked about enhancing the available support for all birthing people.[2] Pregnancy rights throughout the world are not going to be the same in every single place but the ICPD is aiming to eliminate discrimination during pregnancy and make all pregnant patients' rights available to everyone.

Nurses and patients sometimes run into troubles because their opinions will often vary in what they think should be done in terms of termination or pre/post natal care.[3] As Kane, 2009 states "The NMC code of professional conduct states that: 'you must make the care of people your first concern'" enforcing that the nurses opinions really should be kept to themselves so as to not influence the decision of the patients.

Rights in Australia[edit]

In Australia pregnant people have the same rights as any other member of society. However, they do have some extra rights when it comes to their rights in the workforce.

Pregnant people's rights in the workforce[edit]

Under the Fair Work Act 2009 section [4] pregnant people are still entitled to the same amount of sick leave as any other individual, as being pregnant does not classify as an illness. A Pregnant person, however, is able to take unpaid leave for "special maternity leave". This is maternity leave that they can take if they have a pregnancy related illness or the pregnancy ends any time after the first trimester due to a miscarriage, a stillbirth or a termination.

Safe jobs is when the person moves to a safer job while pregnant because their original job is dangerous to them or the fetus. They will need to provide evidence that they can still work but are unable to perform the original tasks, and show how long they shouldn't work in their original position. An example of proof would be a medical certificate. In the circumstances where there is no safer job to be offered, the pregnant person can take no safe jobs leave. The employee takes paid leave if they are entitled to unpaid parental leave, and unpaid leave if they are not.[4]

Discrimination in the workforce against pregnant people is illegal. This means that they can not be fired, lose hours, be demoted or treated differently because of their pregnancy.[5]

Terminating the pregnancy[edit]

In Australia, the laws on termination change between each state and territory. In Western Australia, termination is considered lawful up until 20 weeks of pregnancy. A termination after 20 weeks can only be undertaken if there are two medical practitioners from a panel of six that agree that the pregnant person or the fetus has or will have a serious medical condition if the pregnancy continues.[6]


Pregnant people have the right to seek getting immunised with the influenza vaccine ("Flu Shot") and the adult dTpa vaccine (pertussis). Both of these vaccines are recommended; however, it is up to the individual whether or not to go ahead with the vaccinations.[7]


  1. ^ "Your pregnancy rights". 2012. Retrieved May 11, 2012.
  2. ^ a b McIntosh, C. A., & Finkle, J. L. (1995). "The Cairo conference on population and development: A new paradigm?" (PDF). Population and Development Review. 21 (2): 223–260. doi:10.2307/2137493. JSTOR 2137493. S2CID 156381362. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2020-02-08.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  3. ^ Kane, R. (2009). "Conscientious objection to termination of pregnancy: the competing rights of patients and nurses". Journal of Nursing Management. 17 (7): 907–912. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2834.2008.00888.x. PMID 19793248.
  4. ^ a b "Federal Register of Legislation".
  6. ^ "Abortion Law in Australia".
  7. ^ "Immunise Australia Program".

5. Federal Register of Legislation. (2009). Fair Work act. Retrieved from

6. Federal Register of Legislation. (2003). Sex Discrimination Amendment (pregnancy and work) act. Retrieved from

7. Parliament of Australia.(1998). Abortion law in Australia. Retrieved from

8. Australian Government Department of Health. (2015) Immunise Australia Program. Retrieved from