Just Talkin’ Tuesday: The MOTHER’S Act


LegislationOn February 23, 2001, Melanie Stokes gave birth to a baby girl. Just three months later, she committed suicide. Melanie’s death gave birth to a very dedicated activist – her mother, Carol Blocker. Frustrated with the failure of physicians to appropriately care for her daughter, Carol worked endlessly to keep Melanie’s tragic death from becoming meaningless. Through Carol’s tireless advocacy and work with Representative Bobby Rush (IL), the Melanie Blocker Stokes Act has now become The MOTHER’S Act.

The MOTHER’S Act as it reads in the current version would provide funds for a public awareness campaign, education campaign for caregivers, increase availability of treatment options and entities as well as require the current Secretary of Health & Human Services to conduct a study regarding the validity of screening for Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorders.

More and more research is slowly uncovering potential underlying causes and risks related to Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorders. More and more women and caregivers are becoming educated as more of those who have survived a PMAD speak up to share our story.

If passed, The MOTHER’S Act would further reduce the stigma surrounding new mothers not ensconced in the Johnson & Johnson glow of infantdom. If passed, the MOTHER’S Act would increase funding for research and possibly open even more doors to understanding the cause and more importantly, the potential for truly preventing Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorders. If passed, the MOTHER’S Act has the potential to prevent tragic deaths like that of Melanie Blocker Stokes.

Much of the debate surrounding the MOTHER’S Act has centered on the word “medication.” Medication does not necessarily mean Anti-depressants. It does not mean this is the ONLY way to treat a PMAD. It is merely listed as an option for treatment. And frankly, if one has a doctor with a quicker draw on his/her prescription pad than Billy the Kidd, I’d run away. I’d run away faster than a cheetah.

Another key point of the opposition has been that the MOTHER’S Act mandates screening. In the current version, there is no mandate for screening. The only mention of screening is to require the Secretary of Health & Human Services to conduct a study regarding the validity of screening for Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorders. The current standard for screening is the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale, which you can learn more about here.

You can read a copy of the current bill by clicking here.

Go read it. (Don’t worry – it’ll pop up in a new tab/window – I’m cool like that here)

Seriously. Read. The. Bill.

Then read it again.

And then come back here. Be honest.

Unlike this week’s TIME article which failed to present both sides, I promise to allow unedited comments in support of or opposing the bill as long as they are civil. (Any comments including personal attacks will NOT be allowed!)

So let’s get to Just Talkin’ Tuesday already!

Statement from Susan Dowd Stone about The MOTHER’S Act


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Republicans Bail on Advancing American Priorities Act,

but there is still encouraging news!

Despite yesterday’s senate vote not to consider The Advancing American Priorities Act at this time – which included The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act , the bill will come up again sometime soon.

The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act is not “dead” nor was it “defeated”. While Republicans except for Senators Warner, Coleman and Smith continued their obstructionist ways and chose not to move forward on yesterday’s package of bills, The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act actually has garnered broad bipartisan support. Yet its lead Republican sponsor – Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine – yesterday voted against this package of non controversial bills. I have begun the process of requesting statements from all senators whom voted NAY and I will share them with you.

Meanwhile, click on this link to see how your state senators voted. Then call them with your thanks, or let them know their vote was unacceptable!

But there is good news! The inclusion of The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act in this package generated unprecedented coverage by major press agencies resulting in even more attention and awareness of the need for its critical initiatives for mothers, infants and families. We have been deluged with requests for information about the bill, emailed and faxed hundreds of copies taking full advantage of this current national platform to solidify ever wider, bipartisan support for this “no brainer” bill.

We are thankful to Senator Robert Menendez and Senator Harry Reid for including this bill in The Advancing American’s Priorities Act and their determination to end the public health crisis of untreated maternal depression. We applaud their efforts and that of every senator who voted to end needless suffering. The vote was very close. The current national spotlight also refocuses attention on legislative obstructionists responsible not only for suspension of the bill’s progress, but for the lowest Congressional rating in history. The failure of our elected officials to recognize and adopt an initiative as basic and indisputable as supporting the mental health of America’s new mothers and their infants suggests a legislator/constituent divide that might only be healed through an election cycle bringing new blood and energy to an impotent Congress.

While disappointed in yesterday’s outcome, we remain encouragingly galvanized by our widening circle of support, this week’s national attention on our issue and an election which promises to shake the status quo to its core.

Meanwhile, THANK YOU to the 20,000 plus individuals who have written letters, signed the petition and verbalized their support. Thank you to the community of bloggers, who have helped spread the urgent message to mothers and families nationwide. Thank you to the national media outlets who now offer their support for the bill’s adoption and join us in expressing outrage at its further delay. We continue to prepare for the next presentation of The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act with a growing force of American families who have waited too long and long enough.”

Warmly,

Susan

Sharpen those keyboards and use those phones!


Ladies! (And gentlemen!)

Get those advocate attitudes revving!

The MOTHER’S Act is set to see action THIS WEEK in the Senate.

So pick up your phone, email your Senator. Let them know that supporting the MOTHER’S Act is a brave first step towards battling this illness that affects thousands of American Families each year. Give these families a voice!

Here’s a clip from what Susan Dowd Stone, immediate past President of PSI has to say:

Today, America’s mothers, infants and families have reason to be encouraged and to reach out to their state senators to again request their support of The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act in its final push to passage.YOU HAVE BEEN HEARD and this morning, Majority Leader Reid introduced a package of bills called Advance America’s Priorities Act which now includes The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act. Senators Robert Menendez (NJ) and Richard Durbin (IL) have been working very hard with Majority Leader Harry Reid and Chairman Edward Kennedy to pass this legislation.
These initiatives will be considered over the next week.

Your renewed advocacy and attention is especially welcome RIGHT NOW! We need to continue make it deafeningly clear how important this bill is to women and families all across America.  The online petition in support of The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act has been reintroduced and we invite your signature and call to your state senators office. If you wish to write a personal letter, this would also offer welcome support. By clicking on this link you will be connected to the petition and information on how you can reach your senator and sign the petition.  http://capwiz.com/ndmda/issues/alert/?alertid=11668371

We are almost there!! After years of unfathomable and needless suffering, American women may finally get the relief offered through increased research into the causes of perinatal mood disorders, better education of healthcare professionals to identify and treat these disorders, and grants for programs and services to help women to recovery. Thanks for the tremendous efforts which have brought us to this point and your steadfast participation in this final effort.