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5/31/97 Update on New York Class Action Suit

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This is a brief update on the meeting that took place on 5/31/97. The actual count of adults was 45 plus children; it was a good turn out. Here is a report received and submitted by Lianna Hoodes:

Before a class action lawsuit can be filed, it must determined if there is enough factual basis to the contention that families in NYS are being denied their right to a homebirth. Michael Sussman outlined an approximately 3-month fact-finding phase, which will entail systematic research around the state. This must be done by all of us who are interested in the possibility of this case moving forward. The following regions of the state were outlined (volunteer coordinator in each region is in parentheses):

 South of Orange Co.  (Ginny Jackson)
 Mid-Hudson Valley - south of Albany  (HOME)
 **Albany area -- capital district and north
 Saratoga Co. -- (Tisha Graham)
 Syracuse (Roberta Scott)
 Rochester (Willa Ponell)
 Binghamton  (Kathleen Richardson)
 Ithaca  (Linda Schutt)
 Buffalo (Lauren Sample)
 Long Island  (Ginny Jackson)
 North Country  (Betsy Mercogliano)
 NYC  (Ginny Jackson)
 Central region --Montgomery and surrounding counties  (Byron Nilsson)
 **Southwest corner (We need a volunteer here!!)
 Seneca Reservation -- (Karen Pardini)
**indicates that the region is not really covered with a coordinator

For each region:

  1. A factual assessment of the availability of homebirth care: Is there someone in your area ready, willing, and able to attend a homebirth? Legal and non-legal. Use the questionnaire below to contact legal and non-legal careproviders in your area.
  2. [From HOME: The consumer analysis should be put on the back burner for the time being. We are looking into hiring a professional to compose a survey for the consumers that can then be distributed by everyone interested. If you know of anyone, please let Lianna know. In this way we can quantify the results of where homebirth is available and where it is NOT. Please be patient with the consumer point and lets concentrate on the physicians and legal careproviders for the this month. Which takes us to the next point.]

  3. Who are the practitioners doing homebirths? What is the nature of their practice; i.e., since the implementation of the statute in 1994 are their restrictions on their practice that make it more difficult to do homebirths (for instance, has the definition of "low-risk" changed in your region)? Detail numbers, and names if possible.
  4. In terms of a game plan, the first work that needs to be done is a time of information gathering (FACTS FIRST) on the availability of homebirth and the need/desire for homebirth services. A series of questions was formulated to inquire of OB/GYN and Family Practice doctors and licensed/unlicensed midwives in all areas of the state. (This method could be used in other states as well.)All are encouraged to get as many respondents as possible in their region to the following questions (Be sure to record who, date, time, and exact answers):

The questions are as follows:
  1. Are you currently attending homebirths?
  2. Have you ever attended homebirths?
  3. Who in this area would attend my homebirth?
  4. Why isn't there anyone doing this?
[Again from HOME:It would be appreciated if the results from this line of questioning could be sent to: H.O.M.E. PO Box 166 Walden, NY 12586. They will then be copied, the results sent to all of you, and to the attorney from Michael's office that is assigned to the case, Cheri Hatton. That way the information is in two places.]

Thanks Liana for the report.

This fact finding information is very important for the movement forward toward making homebirth available, whether we move toward future legislative effort or for the lawsuit. We cannot build any case without the facts.

Liana will field any questions about this particular effort and you can email her at [gali@juno.com] or call her at 914-744-5903, while I am away until the 17th of June. At the end of the fact finding phase(facts from careproviders and consumers should take about three months) we will call another meeting to consider the next phase.

If the other report comes in before I leave, I will forward it all of you.

Regards All, Julia

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