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Date: Thu, 24 Jun 1999 03:37:38 -0700 (PDT)
From: E Frances White <[log in to unmask]>
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Subject: HMO Kills Baby: The Tabitha Walrond Case
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The Following is a Press Release/Statement from the Black Radical Congress

HMO Kills Baby

Mother Convicted

Hospital Turns Poor Mother Away Twice

On June 30, 1999, a New York judge will sentence Tabitha Walrond for the
crime of being poor and Black. Many of you have probably heard of this
case by now. Tabitha was convicted of criminal negligence in the death of
her two-month old son, Tyler. The prosecutor and the media have portrayed
her as at best, an unfeeling and irresponsible mother or at worst, as a
scheming woman who would kill her child to get back at her ex-boyfriend.

What has been ignored or downplayed in this case is the fact that on the
occasions when Tabitha sought help for her baby she was turned away by the
Medicaid HMO at a HIP center because the baby's Medicaid card had not yet
arrived in the mail. This violated the law which requires that Medicaid
automatically enroll babies if their mothers are covered by Medicaid. City
contracts with Medicaid HMOs, including HIP, require them to see infants,
whether they have a card or not. The card arrived in the mail weeks after
the infant's death.

Yet the prosecution is not taking action against the HMO or the hospital,
choosing instead to punish Tabitha.  As one of the jurors who convicted
Tabitha put it, "She [Tabitha] was failed, but she should have been strong
enough to do more."

This sentiment is the injustice at the heart of this case -- the belief
that poor Black women who are denied the resources and services necessary
for them and their families to survive are nonetheless supposed to become
superhuman and "do more" with nothing!  This letter is a plea for your
active support of Tabitha Walrond.

What YOU Can Do:

1. Sign and send the following letter to the judge urging a lenient
sentence for Tabitha. Letters must be sent before JUNE 30, 1999. Remember,
as outrageous as this case is, the point of the letters to the judge is to
prevent the further tragedy of Tabitha being sent to jail for this. Don't
alienate the judge.

2. If you would like to make a financial contribution, send checks to
Tabitah's lawyer: Susan Tipograph, Attorney at Law, 351 Broadway, New
York, NY 10013. Susan took this case pro-bono and funds are needed for the
planned appeal.

3. Attend a meeting of the NYC Black Radical Congress Feminist Caucus to
plan future campaigns that address both this case and the broader issue of
the failure of the healthcare system when it comes to poor Black women.
We will be in touch about a date and time.

********************** SAMPLE LETTER FOR IMMEDIATE USE *******************

June 23, 1999

Honorable Robert  H. Straus
Justice of the Supreme Court
Bronx County  Courthouse
851 Grand Concourse
Bronx NY 10451

Dear Judge Straus:

I am writing to you with great concern about the case of Tabitha Walrond,
the young woman who has been faced with the tragic death of her infant
son. I ask that you not sentence Tabitha to prison. A jail sentence would
compound a tragic situation and force Ms. Walrond to suffer even more than
she already has. Thousands of people from communities throughout New York
City -- teachers, working people, healthcare providers, parents, community
activists, youth and students -- are concerned about Tabitha Walrond's
case.  This case demonstrates the difficulties that young, poor women
(many of them single mothers) have in getting medical care for themselves
and their children. As health care is increasingly privatized, so does it
become more difficult for poor women and their families to obtain it.

Ms. Walrond did seek medical assistance for her infant son twice and was
turned away from her Medicaid HMO (HIP) because her baby's Medicaid card
had not arrived in the mail. This was in clear violation of the law which
states that a baby is automatically enrolled in the Medicaid program if
the baby's mother is already covered under that program. The law further
states that such a baby is entitled to medical services whether or not the
baby has a card.

The card was delivered weeks after the baby's death. The responsibility
for Tyler Walrond's death lies with many people, most notably those at the
hospital who turned Tabitha and Tyler away twice, and with the healthcare
system that under-serves poor women and their families. Tabitha Walrond
should not be made to pay anymore than she already has for the
irresponsibility and negligence of others.

I am concerned about the quality of life for poor women in this city. I am
concerned that what happens to Tabitha Walrond may happen to many more
young, poor women who may be denied healthcare for themselves and their

Tabitha Walrond has suffered a great deal. I ask that she not be
incarcerated and that compassion be shown for her circumstances.


National Black Radical Congress
P.O. Box 27423
Philadelphia, PA 19118

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