Update to Friends and Allies who Signed onto the Oklahoma Open Letter to District Attorney

June 14, 2007

Dear Friends and Allies:

Thank you so much for signing on to the open letter to the Oklahoma City District Attorney in the Theresa Hernandez case. Nearly 200 leading organizations, public health professionals and community members signed the letter. It was an extraordinary effort. Although we have helped to organize similar letters in other states, this letter represents the largest and most impressive list of signatories by far. Organizations that signed on include the Oklahoma State Medical Association, the Oklahoma Nurses Association, the American Public Health Association, the American Society of Addiction Medicine, the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform, the National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependency. National Stillbirth Society, and literally scores of medical experts, health professionals and community members.

On Thursday of last week, the letter was delivered, and on Friday, two of Ms. Hernandez' attorneys Jim Rowan of Oklahoma and Tom Dixon of Wisconsin had a face to face meeting with the DA David Prater.

We wish we could tell you that the letter was so impressive that the DA dropped the charges on the spot. (As you may know, Theresa Hernandez has been sitting in jail for 3 years awaiting trial on first-degree murder charges for having suffered an unintentional stillbirth). Unfortunately that did not happen.

Nevertheless, the letter has opened communications with the DA's office. Mr. Prater was not the DA when these charges were initiated and we are hopeful that the letter will encourage him to look closely at medical, public health, and treatment research -- on issues underlying the case. We know that leading experts and organizations agree that addressing issues of pregnancy loss and pregnancy and drug use through the criminal justice system undermines both maternal and fetal health.

We will keep you informed as things proceed and look forward to working with you to ensure that pregnant women and new mothers receive the health care they need and that families are not needlessly punished or separated based on costly and counterproductive punitive policies.

Sincerely,

Lynn M. Paltrow
NAPW Executive Director