An Ashland, Ohio mother begins serving 16 years in jail for the severe beating of her infant today. The judge expressed absolutely no mercy, showing the mother a picture of her injured infant as she doled out the sentence.
Terri Dawson is a single mother with three children, a set of twins and one older child. Her attorney states she became exasperated with the prospect of single parenthood and argued for probation so that Dawson could seek psychological treatment.
Postpartum Depression was listed as a potential cause for Dawson’s behavior but summarily dismissed by the prosecution. Prosecutor Francesconi-Rogers stated Dawson had not been diagnosed with Postpartum Depression in her dismissal of the claim.
Now, I am not at all dismissing the seriousness of infant injury and child abuse. Both are intensely tragic and heartbreaking. But I have to wonder – did Dawson really suffer from a PMD? If so, did she seek treatment? When she sought treatment, did the doctors she saw even know what PMD’s are or how to treat them properly? Who is really at fault here? Is this another case of a Mother who was failed by the system? Or is it a mom who has manipulated the system? We’ll probably never know the answers to those questions but they are worth asking.
This case exemplifies the need for the Mother’s Act if indeed she sought treatment and was turned away. Let’s not forget that mothers of multiples are 43% more likely than mothers of singletons to exhibit symptoms of depression at 9-10 months postpartum. Let’s not forget that more often than not, mothers do not seek help for a Mood Disorder because they fear the stigma attached. Let us also not forget that many physicians are uneducated regarding PMD’s and don’t screen or counsel new mothers about the very real possiblity of experiencing the number one complication of childbirth.
What will it take for this country to wake up and realize we are not supporting our Mothers the best we can? We are failing our families by leaps and bounds. They are suffering and we stand idly by as they fall from grace yet we race to judge and point the finger rather than ask why so we can prevent it from happening again.
Do me a favor. Call your Senator. Tell them they need to pass the MOTHER’S Act. Email Susan Dowd-Stone @ susanstonelcsw(@)aol.com to be added to a list of supporters. Make sure you include your name, state, any credentials you have, and organization/affilitations if applicable.
The time is now. Your voice can save lives.