The conference was a worthwhile experience and I believe the panel members have the most honest of intentions. I am so glad I went. I hope some of you followed the webcast and if not, it will be up soon through the NIH website. My take on the conference was that it is clear from the presentations and the panelist conclusions that there is no convincing evidence that VBAC is inherantly unsafe nor is it ethically a choice that should be denied to any informed woman. While I do not think there is a snowball's chance in hell it will cause any immediate effect on hospital policy, I do believe if disseminated to patients they can make a convincing argument to their local hospitals that they cannot be forced into surgery and have the right of informed refusal.
One of the most compelling points of the conference to me was the following. ACOG's 1999 statement No.5 changing the word readily to immediately available was not based on any evidence. It was likely done to give ACOG members legal cover in cases where compliance was maintained and still a bad outcome ensued. The result was no real protection against the fear or reality of a disastrous law suit and only fed the fear which led to VBAC bans at more than 30% of American hospitals. Amazingly, neither before ACOG came out with the "immediate" guideline or in the ten years since has there been any studies undertaken that have ever shown that having emergency help immediately available has done anything to lower the incidence of cerebral palsy, neonatal death or maternal morbidity over the "readily" available (30 minutes decision to incision) standard! It is horrifying for me to actually learn that so many of these repeat c/sections were inflicted on women based on nothing but fear and economics. My profession should be ashamed of our cowardice.
I will post a link to the final NIH consensus statement when it appears. The BAC website and VBACfacts are also a great resource to follow the story. Spread the word!