Stillbirth issue close to Molan's heart

While he was more commonly recognised as a political hard-head, late Liberal senator Jim Molan was a passionate advocate on a health issue powerful enough to melt any heart - stillbirth.

On October 12, 2007, he and his wife Anne received a phone call from their then 26-year-old daughter Sarah.

She had gone into labour with her second child with husband Gavin.

As Senator Molan told the Senate in December 2018, plans were made to "hurtle across the Hay Plain to get to Nyah, in Victoria, in the next few days".

"Our daughter Sarah organised the last of her freezer meals before she and Gav drove into Swan Hill hospital."

It had not been a difficult pregnancy, with an ultrasound 48 hours earlier showing things were "perfectly normal", he recounted.

"It's fair to say there was much joviality and excitement anticipating Gavin's next call with an update or, if we were really lucky, with the happy news.

"Sarah and Gavin were told on arrival at the hospital that there was concern for the baby, and they were rushed to emergency ... for a scan which confirmed that the baby had died.

"Sarah became hysterical for a time, urging the staff to take the baby by emergency caesarean section and attempt resuscitation.

"Some 30 minutes later, they were composed enough - I hope I'm composed enough - to phone both sets of parents and inform us that their daughter had to be delivered normally and that the labour could not be accelerated.

"Emily Charlotte Sutton was born at 8.07pm, believed to be approximately 40 hours after she had died."

The incident led Senator Molan to volunteer for a parliamentary committee looking at boosting stillbirth research and education and giving voice to thousands of Australians who had endured the trauma.

The inquiry gained national attention and led to millions of dollars being spent on addressing what he described as the "unimaginable grief of your baby going to the hospital mortuary instead of to the nursery".

"Emily is loved and remembered every single day," Senator Molan told parliament.

Stillbirth affects more than 2000 Australian families every year and for every 137 women who reach 20 weeks pregnancy, one will experience a stillbirth.

A national plan was published in December 2020, aimed at reducing the rate of stillbirth by 20 per cent or more within five years.

Senator Molan died on Monday aged 72, survived by wife Anne; daughters Sarah, Erin and Felicity; son Michael and five grandchildren.