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Banning pregnant netballers—is this the answer?
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  1. S White
  1. Olympic Park Sports Medicine Centre, Swan Street, Melbourne 3000, Australia
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr White; 
 susanwhite{at}optusnet.com.au

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A forum on a ban of pregnant netballers considered that the ban was discriminatory and that pregnant women should have the right to make decisions about competing in sporting activities

A recent move by Netball Australia to ban all pregnant netballers at all levels from participating in their sport has been met with a mixture of outrage and sympathy. Those who advocate a woman's right to make decisions about her own pregnancy, including sports participation, have been vocal in their disagreement with this ban. Sporting administrators in fear of litigation and some sporting competitors concerned about playing against a pregnant opponent have welcomed the ban.

The introduction of the ban had an immediate effect, with a national level netballer announcing her pregnancy (first trimester) and applying to the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission for a lifting of the ban on the basis of discrimination. The case is pending.

Such a controversial situation prompted the Australian Sports Commission to hold a national forum with a range of experts and interested parties invited to contribute. Firstly, the available medical evidence was discussed. Associate Professor Caroline Finch, Chair of the National SportSafe Committee and a leading epidemiologist in the area of sports injury, reported that there is not a single case of an adverse outcome in pregnancy related to sports participation in the world literature. Admittedly there are no specific studies on pregnancy and contact sports, but numerous studies have looked at …

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