Friday, July 31, 2009

FFOM Welcomes Ina May Gaskin to Sarasota

Sarasota, FL (July 31, 2009) -- On November 1, 2009, Sarasota will host a discussion entitled 'Maternal Health Care in the 21st Century: Sarasota and Beyond.' The program will feature a distinguished panel of internationally recognized speakers. The Sarasota-Manatee Chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW) is sponsoring the event, along with co-sponsors Florida Friends of Midwives and the Sarasota Commission on the Status of Women. The discussion will take place at the Hyatt Regency Sarasota. The public is welcome to attend at no cost.

The panelists for this discussion are:
--Dr. Washington Hill, MD, FACOG, Labor and Delivery Medical Director and Maternal-Fetal Medicine Director at Sarasota Memorial Hospital;
--Ina May Gaskin, MA, CPM, Founder and Director of The Farm Midwifery Center;
--Rep. Keith Fitzgerald, PhD, Florida House of Representatives, District 69; and
--Jennifer Highland, MPH, Executive Director of the Healthy Start Coalition of Sarasota County.

The discussion will be moderated by Kelly Kirschner, MA, Sarasota City Commissioner and Vice Mayor, and will last approximately an hour and a half. Time will be allotted for audience questions and answers, as well as refreshments following the program.

This panel will review current trends in maternity care in Sarasota within the context of the U.S. and the world and target paths to improving maternity care locally and nationwide. Topics for discussion include:
  • maternal mortality,
  • obstetric intervention rates and risks,
  • legislation,
  • legal reform and malpractice concerns,
  • insurance coverage,
  • community education and awareness,
  • the midwifery model of care,
  • informed consent and refusal,
  • transparency in maternity care,
  • the availability of prenatal care (including education, counseling, and doulas), and
  • the upcoming expansion of Sarasota Memorial Hospital to include new labor and delivery rooms.
Hosting a panel discussion about maternal health care issues was the brainchild of Sonia Pressman Fuentes, co-founder of the National Organization for Women (NOW). “After spending a lifetime improving the legal status of women and fighting gender discrimination in the US and the world, it is exciting for me to be involved in a field new to me, that of improving maternal health care options for women in Sarasota, the US, and the world,” says Fuentes. Joining her in planning the event is Laura Gilkey, local childbirth advocate and board member of Florida Friends of Midwives. "With a panel representative of obstetrics, midwifery, legislature and public health, perhaps Sarasota can begin a conversation that will pave the way toward becoming a national model of community healthcare reform through improved maternity care," says Gilkey.

For more information, please contact Laura Gilkey at / (941) 915-8115. Interviews are available at the request of the press. Planning and agenda updates for the panel will be posted on the website

About the National Organization for Women (NOW):
The National Organization for Women (NOW) is the largest organization of feminist activists in the United States. NOW has 500,000 contributing members and 550 chapters in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Since its founding in 1966, NOW's goal has been to take action to bring about equality for all women. NOW works to eliminate discrimination and harassment in the workplace, schools, the justice system, and all other sectors of society; secure abortion, birth control and reproductive rights for all women; end all forms of violence against women; eradicate racism, sexism and homophobia; and promote equality and justice in our society.

About Florida Friends of Midwives (FFOM):
Florida Friends of Midwives (FFOM) is a non-profit grassroots organization dedicated to promoting the Midwives Model of Care and supporting the practice of midwifery in Florida. Florida Friends of Midwives was formed to support midwives who offer safe, cost-effective, evidence based care to Florida's Families. Our members are consumers and birth advocates with a common goal: to preserve the legal protection afforded to Florida's midwives and birth centers. We are committed to organizing the community to support midwives and to assure the continued availability of midwifery care in the State of Florida.

About the Sarasota Commission on the Status of Women (SCSW):
The Sarasota Commission on the Status of Women (SCSW) was re-established in Sarasota County to empower women through education, research, and advocacy.


Dr. Washington Hill, M.D., FACOG
Labor and Delivery Medical Director / Maternal-Fetal Medicine Director, Sarasota Memorial Hospital

B.A., Rutgers University, College of South Jersey, Camden, New Jersey, 1961
M.D., Temple University School of Medicine, 1965
Obstetrics and Gynecology Residency, William Beaumont General Hospital, 1970
Post Graduate, Maternal-Fetal Medicine Fellowship, University of California, San Francisco, 1984
Board Certification, American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology with Special Competence in Maternal-Fetal Medicine, 1989 with Recertification 1978, 1993 and 1998

Dr. Hill is the Past President of the Medical Staff and Chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Sarasota Memorial Hospital, Sarasota, Florida. He is currently Director of Maternal-Fetal Medicine. He is also Clinical Professor Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at University South Florida College of Medicine, Tampa Florida and Clinical Professor Department of Clinical Sciences OB/GYN Clerkship Director-Sarasota Campus Florida State University College of Medicine Tallahassee Florida. After earning his medical degree at Temple University and interning at Walter Reed General Hospital in Washington, D.C., Dr. Hill spent the next nine years as a Medical Officer in the United States Army. During this time, he conducted his residency training in Obstetrics and Gynecology at William Beaumont General Hospital in El Paso, Texas. Upon finishing his residency, he was an Obstetrician and Gynecologist in Germany for three years. After twelve years of private practice in Obstetrics and Gynecology, Dr. Hill completed a fellowship in Maternal-Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco and Children’s Hospital of San Francisco in 1984. While there, he was also a Research Fellow at the Cardiovascular Research Institute. Following completion of his fellowship in Maternal-Fetal Medicine, he has practiced this subspecialty for over 20 years first at the Sutter Perinatal Center and the University of California-Davis School of Medicine, Sacramento, California, and then at Creighton University, School of Medicine, Omaha, Nebraska; Meharry Medical College, and Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tennessee. He served as Chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Meharry Medical College, School of Medicine, educating minority medical students and residents from 1990 until 1992, when he took his current position as Director of Maternal-Fetal Medicine and the Perinatal Center of Sarasota Memorial Hospital in Sarasota, Florida. Dr. Hill is a leader in Maternal-Fetal Medicine. He has a strong interest in education, patient care, teaching and clinical practice. He is a regular participant at conferences which teach perinatal healthcare providers management and use of research in caring for high risk pregnancies. He has been a leader in the development of a center of excellence known throughout the nation for the care of high risk pregnant patients. Dr. Hill is a frequently sought after speaker in the community and at medical centers around the nation in high risk pregnancy management. He is Board Certified in Maternal Fetal Medicine and Obstetrics and Gynecology. He also serves around the country as a consultant for maternal-fetal medicine and medical legal issues. In his “spare time,” he likes to travel, especially to Africa on medical missions and will be happy to recruit to go also. He also enjoys sports, music and collecting African artifacts when not engaged in his teaching duties. Dr. Hill is the author of at least 60 articles in refereed journals and the book, “Ambulatory Obstetrics.” He contributes regularly to the medical literature and provider education. A native of Camden, New Jersey, Dr. Hill is married to Pauline Hill.

Ina May Gaskin, M.A., C.P.M.
Founder / Director, The Farm Midwifery Center

State University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa, B.A., English, Summa cum laude, Highest honors
Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Illinois, M.A., English
North American Registry of Midwives
Certified Professional Midwife
Tennessee Licensed Certified Professional Midwife

Ina May Gaskin, MA, CPM, is founder and director of the Farm Midwifery Center, located near Summertown, Tennessee. Founded in 1971, by 1996, the Farm Midwifery Center had handled more than 2200 births, with remarkably good outcomes. Ms. Gaskin herself has attended more than 1200 births. She is author of Spiritual Midwifery, now in its fourth edition. For twenty-two years she published Birth Gazette, a quarterly covering health care, childbirth and midwifery issues. Her most recent book, Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth was released in 2003 by Bantam/Dell, a division of Random House. She has lectured all over the world at midwifery conferences and at medical schools, both to students and to faculty. She was President of Midwives' Alliance of North America from 1996 to 2002. In 1997, she received the ASPO/Lamaze Irwin Chabon Award and the Tennessee Perinatal Association Recognition Award. In 2003 she was chosen as Visiting Fellow of Morse College, Yale University. Ms. Gaskin has lectured widely to midwives and physicians throughout the world. Her promotion of a low-intervention but extremely effective method for dealing with one of the most-feared birth complications, shoulder dystocia, has resulted in that method being adopted by a growing number of practitioners. The Gaskin maneuver is the first obstetrical procedure to be named for a midwife. Her statistics for breech deliveries and her teaching video on the subject have helped to spark a reappraisal of the policy of automatically performing cesarean section for all breech babies. As the occurrence of vaginal breech births has declined over the last 25 years, the knowledge and skill required for such births have come close to extinction. Ms. Gaskin’s center is noted for its low rates of intervention, morbidity and mortality despite the inclusion of many vaginally delivered breeches, twin and grand multiparas. Their statistics were published in “The Safety of Home Birth: The Farm Study,” authored by A. Mark Durand, American Journal of Public Health, March, 1992, Vol. 82, 450-452. Ms. Gaskin was featured in Salon magazine’s feature “Brilliant Careers” in the June 1, 1999 edition. She is the originator and coordinator of The Safe Motherhood Quilt Project, a national effort developed to draw public attention to the current maternal death rates, as well as to the gross underreporting of maternal deaths in the United States, and to honor those women who have died of pregnancy-related causes since 1982. Her newest book, Ina May's Guide to Breastfeeding, will be released October 1st, 2009.

Rep. Keith Fitzgerald, Ph.D.
Florida House of Representatives, District 69

University of Louisville, B.A., 1979
Indiana University, Ph.D., 1987

Representative Keith Fitzgerald was elected to represent State House District 69 in 2006. His district includes the northern part of Sarasota County and a small portion of Manatee County. Representative Fitzgerald was born in Springfield, OH and grew up in Louisville, KY. He holds a B.A. from the University of Louisville, and a Ph.D. from Indiana University. Representative Fitzgerald has lived in Sarasota and taught political science at New College of Florida since 1994. He and his wife, Angela Baker, have nine-year-old twins. Representative Fitzgerald is a lifelong public servant. From the time when he worked in high school and college as a reading tutor for dyslexic children until his present job as a college professor at New College of Florida, he has been an educator. As a Ph.D. in political science, he has studied politics his whole life, taught at colleges and universities and conducted scholarly research. Representative Fitzgerald serves as the Democratic Ranking Member on the Policy Council and as a member of the Finance and Tax Council, Health and Family Services Policy Council, Select Policy Council on Strategic & Economic Planning and the Military and Local Affairs Policy Committee. Representative Fitzgerald also serves as Policy Chair for the House Democratic Caucus. His prior leadership positions include service on the Advisory Council of Faculty Senates, the Board of Trustees at New College of Florida and the Sarasota City Charter Review Board.

Jennifer Highland, M.P.H.
Executive Director, Healthy Start Coalition of Sarasota County

University of South Florida, M.P.H. Public Health, 1995

Jennifer’s passion for helping mothers and infants began, of course, with the birth of her children. Most of her early career in Louisiana, Georgia and Texas was as a registered nurse working in hospital settings, in clinical nursing and staff development. Her education positions allowed her to utilize her graphic art skills in the development of printed educational materials and newsletters for hospital staff and nurses. After she moved to Florida and became a mother, Jennifer volunteered for the Breastfeeding Advocates of Sarasota County and completed her Master of Public Health Degree from USF, graduating in 1995. Jennifer was the Project Coordinator for the first and on-going national breastfeeding promotion campaign, “Loving Support Makes Breastfeeding Work,” through her employment with Best Start, Inc., in Tampa. She then became trained as a Childbirth Educator and taught at Sarasota Memorial Hospital. Her work at Healthy Start began in 2001 as the Contract/Quality Manager. Her role expanded to include professional education. In 2006 she became the Executive Director.

MODERATOR: Kelly Kirschner, M.A.
Sarasota City Commission (District 3 Commissioner / Vice Mayor)
B.S. Foreign Service, Georgetown University
M.A. Latin American Studies, Georgetown University

Kelly is a lifelong Sarasotan. He has served the Sarasota community as President of the Alta Vista Neighborhood Association as well as having been an active member of the Coalition of City Neighborhood Associations. Believing strongly in public service, Kelly has worked for the White House Office of Public Liaison; served as a Peace Corps Volunteer; and led a USAID community conservation project in rural Guatemala. Kelly lives with his wife, Tracy, son, Bodhi, and daughter, Selby, in District 3.

EVENT SPONSOR: Sonia Pressman Fuentes, JD
The National Organization for Women (NOW)

B.A. Cornell University 1950
J.D. University of Miami School of Law 1957

Sonia Pressman Fuentes, who was born in Berlin, Germany, of Polish parents, came to the U.S. with her immediate family in 1934 to escape the Holocaust. She graduated as valedictorian of her high school in Monticello, New York, Phil Beta Kappa from Cornell University, and first in her class at the University of Miami (FL) School of Law. She was an attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice, the National Labor Relations Board, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development in Washington, D.C. She was the first woman attorney in the Office of the General Counsel at the EEOC and drafted a number of the Commission’s landmark guidelines and decisions. She was a co-founder of NOW, WEAL (the Women’s Equity Action League), and FEW (Federally Employed Women) and a charter member of VFA. She was the longest-serving board member in the history of NWP (National Woman’s Party). She also served as an attorney and executive, respectively, at the headquarters of GTE Service Corporation and TRW Inc., and was the highest-paid woman employee at each of those headquarters. In 1993, she retired from the federal government, thereafter wrote her memoir, Eat First—You Don’t Know What They’ll Give You, The Adventures of an Immigrant Family and Their Feminist Daughter, and embarked on new careers as a writer and public speaker. For further information, see her website.

Florida Friends of Midwives (FFOM)

B.L.A. Landscape Architecture, University of Florida, 2000

Laura Gilkey serves on the Board of Directors for Florida Friends of Midwives, and is the Florida Coordinating Ambassador for The Birth Survey: The Transparency in Maternity Care Project. Laura is an endorser of The Mother-Friendly Childbirth Initiative and a member of the Coalition for Improving Maternity Care Services. She is a project coordinator and quilter for Ina May Gaskin's Safe Motherhood Quilt Project, intended to raise awareness about American maternal mortality. Laura has recently joined the Planning and Evaluation Committee for the Healthy Start Coalition of Sarasota County, whose mission is to improve the health and well-being of Sarasota's pregnant women, infants, and small children. Professionally, she is the marketing manager for Michael A. Gilkey, Inc., landscape architecture studio, and is the owner of Kangaroo Promotions, Inc., a creative marketing firm in Sarasota.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Each One Reach One: 2009 Membership Drive

We are so excited to announce our 2009 membership drive, 'Each One Reach One!'

We are asking each of our individual and business members to sign up at least one of your friends, your clients, your family members, your neighbors or your colleagues for an annual membership to
Florida Friends of Midwives. Let them know what their support means to you and to the future of birth choices in Florida. Let them know that by joining Florida Friends of Midwives, their belief that Floridians should have access to midwifery care has a voice. Let them know that without the voice of Florida Friends of Midwives two decades ago, we would not have the legal right to birth with Licensed Midwives today and they can be a part of that legacy of dedicated women.

Florida Friends of Midwives thanks you for your support and we want to show it! The current Florida Friends of Midwives member who bring us the most new members by Labor Day 2009 will receive your choice of item from our Café Press store, as well as a feature in the next edition of the Florida Friends of Midwives newsletter and on our website.

Thank you for your continued support of Florida Friends of Midwives. Together, we can make a real difference to promote and protect midwifery care in Florida. Please contact us with any questions, suggestions, or concerns, at, or toll-free at (800) 925-1014.

Thank you for your continued support!

ChipIn: Contribute to our online fundraiser!

Help us fundraise online!

Our online ChipIn fundraising event for our 2nd Annual Fundraising Campaign is now live and ready to collect money! The key to a successful ChipIn event is getting the word out, so here are a few tips for spreading the word about Florida Friends of Midwives ChipIn to your friends, family and clients:

1. Invite Your Social Network
Send a personal note to those that you want to contribute and tell them about our cause. Then, make sure that they can contribute easily - by posting a widget (tip #2) or creating a ChipIn Page (tip #3).

2. Post a Widget
The ChipIn Widget is a simple application that shows information about your ChipIn on any Web page you place it on. If you have a blog, a social networking profile, or your own Web site, just cut and paste your ChipIn widget code and you can let all of your visitors know about your ChipIn event! To create a widget for our event visit this URL:

3. Visit our ChipIn Page
If you want a quick and easy way to share our ChipIn event, we have our own page at which allows you to let your friends, family, and clients know more about what you are collecting money for and stay up-to-date on your progress..

4. Set a Target Amount that You want to Contribute to our Fundraiser
Although a target amount is optional, people are always more likely to contribute when a goal has been set. Even if you're not sure how much money you'll be able need to raise, we still recommend setting a target amount, as you can always change it later.

5. Ask Friends to Help You Promote
You can get other people to help you promote your ChipIn by asking them to copy your widget and post it on their own web sites. Just give them this URL:

Support Florida Friends of Midwives annual fundraising campaign!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Call for Regional Group Leaders

As the work facing FFOM becomes clearer, the need for committed volunteers is critical. Over the next few weeks, you will see several requests for committee members.

Think about ways in which you can help preserve birth options in our state. Where do your talents lie? What can you contribute?

As Regional Groups Coordinator, I am charged with the task of recruiting at least one Regional Group Leader for each of the 8 regions shown here.Some regions may ultimately be represented by more than one individual, depending of the size/number of metropolitan areas in a region. The following should answer your questions about why these groups will be so important in the work of FFOM.

Why are Regional Groups so important?

Florida is a diverse state, and the characteristics of its population, economy, communities, and environment vary widely from Pensacola to Miami, from Jacksonville to Clearwater. When FFOM was originally founded in 1989, it was made up of several regional friends of midwives groups who all decided to get together so they could become more effective. We'd like to keep that idea alive through the creation of regional groups. Regional groups will provide a local and regional perspective to our work and help us adequately address the issues that impact every region of the state.

What do Regional Groups do?

Regional groups are local groups of parents and professionals who share information, offer support, and protect the rights of women and families to make informed choices within their local community. Regional groups can get together for social and networking functions. We encourage local leaders to hold regular meetings and engage in bigger projects by participating in FFOM's educational, advocacy, and fund raising efforts.

If you are interested in leading a Regional Group in your area or have questions about regional groups, we encourage you to contact us at

Friday, July 17, 2009

Action Alert: Birth Center Reimbursement

Medicaid Birth Center Reimbursement Act Introduced in the Senate

This has been a very busy week week in Washington, DC! In the Senate, U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Mark Begich (D-AK) introduced S.1423 the Medicaid Birth Center Reimbursement Act to ensure Medicaid birth center facility fee payments to states.

In the House, the health care reform bill H.R. 3200 "America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009" was introduced. This bill includes the birth center bill language but it does not guarantee that all state Medicaid plans will cover the facility fee.

It is CRITICAL that we have strong co-sponsorship for our bills in the House and the Senate. This means that we need YOU and your colleagues, family members, clients and friends to contact your federal Senators and Representatives RIGHT AWAY.


Continue to work in the House and the Senate to secure co-sponsors for our bills (H.R. 2358 and S.1423).
  • Call your U.S. Senators and Representatives. Click here for directions on how to contact your Representatives and Senators and what to say. After you have made your calls, please call or email AABC's lobbyist Karen Fennell and tell her who you talked with and any comments or additional information requested. Call Karen at 301-830-3910; Send email here. This report to Karen is important so that she can follow-up.
  • Invite your Senators and Representatives to an Open House at your birth center during the August recess (the entire month of August). Invite the media and your clients to come. This is a win-win. The legislators and the birth center will receive positive press. We will develop an "Open House" packet and post it online in a few days for you to adapt for your community.
  • Attend the town hall meetings on health care reform that are being held across the country and make your voice heard at those meetings.
We MUST be prepared with strong co-sponsorship to move our legislation. Who is already a co-sponsor?

House Bill H.R. 2358
Sponsor: Susan Davis (CA)
Co-Sponsors: Gus Bilirakis (FL), Lois Capps (CA), Robert Whittman (VA), Tammy Baldwin (WI), Sander Levin (MI), Diana DeGette (CO), Eric Massa (NY), and Janice Schakowsky (IL)

Senate Bill S.1423
Sponsor: Barbara Boxer (CA)
Co-Sponsor: Mark Begich (AK)

We need EVERYONE to take action and ensure that our bill is passed as soon as possible!


Jill Alliman, CNM, MSN
Chair, Legislative Committee
American Association of Birth Centers