For those out there who dislike government – whether at a minimal level or an all out invasion – you should really ramp up on this Act.  Of course, before I write about this, let me make this disclaimer: some will find this Act entirely appropriate – after all it is aimed at diagnosing mental illness and protecting the innocent life of the newborn.

Again, let me provide just a smidgen of my background.  My mother suffered from paranoid schizophrenia – as far as could be accurately diagnosed back in the mid ’40s.   She was treated by using insulin shock therapy or, medically, Insulin Coma Therapy (ICT).  ICT is similar to electro shock therapy.  In addition to the ICT, she was also kept on several medications – and, to be honest, I couldn’t begin to tell you what they were.

When we – my brother and I – were very little, mom spent six months in the Richmond mental institution.  We spent the better part of our growing up years and our adult years in the shadow of mental illness.

I learned to know when Mom was going “downhill” – for lack of a better word.  She would start closing all the curtains to darken the house.  We would come home from school to a dim world of light.  I knew when the curtains slammed shut that it wouldn’t be long before Mom went to the hospital again.  She would be gone for a couple of weeks and then come home – seemingly better.  But there wasn’t much in those days that could be done, so her life was a cycle of hospitalization, good days, and then a slow descent into darkness.

The illness culminated in her failed attempt at suicide by overdose when I was 12 and my brother was 10 1/2.  I will never forget the medics putting her onto a stretcher, my brother and I crying, and my Dad telling us to say goodbye because we were never going to see her again.  But she did come home, and she appeared to gain a semblance of control over her mental illness.  She still suffered episodes of darkness and hospitalization, but she never tried to commit suicide again.

I understand that mental illness is serious – I grew up with it.  But the “Mothers Act” – as Congress has decided to label it – is pure patriarchal nonsense and a home run for the pharmaceutical companies.  Typically pharmaceutical companies have given overwhelmingly to Republicans to protect their interests.  But with the 2006 election cycle, pharmaceutical giants figured out where their bread would be buttered and began to bribe donate heavily to Democratic candidates.

In the latest coup for the big druggies, the House of Representatives passed the Mothers Act on March 30, 2009.  The vote – 391 yeas, 8 nays, and 32 nonvoters – is astounding in that with little fanfare or publicity, the House has now sent to the Senate for a vote, legislation that is totally unnecessary and fraught with the potential for abuse.  All nine of Indiana’s representatives voted in favor of the bill.

The following is a primary section:


(a) Continuation of Activities- The Secretary is encouraged to continue activities on postpartum conditions.

(b) Programs for Postpartum Conditions- In carrying out subsection (a), the Secretary is encouraged to continue research to expand the understanding of the causes of, and treatments for, postpartum conditions. Activities under such subsection shall include conducting and supporting the following:

(1) Basic research concerning the etiology and causes of the conditions.

(2) Epidemiological studies to address the frequency and natural history of the conditions and the differences among racial and ethnic groups with respect to the conditions.

(3) The development of improved screening and diagnostic techniques.

(4) Clinical research for the development and evaluation of new treatments.

(5) Information and education programs for health care professionals and the public, which may include a coordinated national campaign to increase the awareness and knowledge of postpartum conditions. Activities under such a national campaign may–

(A) include public service announcements through television, radio, and other means; and

(B) focus on–

(i) raising awareness about screening;

(ii) educating new mothers and their families about postpartum conditions to promote earlier diagnosis and treatment; and

(iii) ensuring that such education includes complete information concerning postpartum conditions, including its symptoms, methods of coping with the illness, and treatment resources.

Of course the Act is the result of the coverage and exploitation of the 2001 death of Melanie Blocker-Stokes, who jumped to her death shortly after her daughter’s birth, allegedly suffering from postpartum depression.  In several different sessions of Congress, the same bill that just passed was introduced and failed.

However this session – with enough lobbying and donations from the medical industry and pharmaceutical companies – the Act passed its first hurdle.   Now it goes to the Senate.  If the Senate passes it, President Obama will have the opportunity to sign it or reject it.

The Act is ludicrous.  Postpartum depression is real – but only about 1 or 2 per 1000 women suffer from it.  Even those 1 or 2 do not ultimately lead to the death of the mother or the death of the child.  What the Act will do is to increase screening and medicating of pregnant mothers.   The problem is that the screening is relevant after the woman becomes pregnant.

That means that – assuming some type of mental instability is detected – the pregnant mother will be put on a prescription medication.  Today, it is common procedure to instruct women in the dangers of smoking and drinking during pregnancy yet the Act would lead to prescribing powerful and dangerous prescription drugs to the pregnant mother.

Chalk another victory up for the pharmaceutical companies and a loss for mothers, in general.



  1. Charlotte, it occurs to me that Congressfolk could save themselves a lot of trouble. Instead of furrowing their photogenic brows and straining their not-so-very-powerful brains over what the very best way is to medically manage the occasional case of severe depression in new mothers, they might simply honor their oaths-of-office and ask themselves: what specific text in the U.S. Constitution explicitly authorizes and empowers the Congress to do this-or-that proposed thing? And if no such constitutional text can be found, simply vote “no.”

    Of course, that presupposes a constitution having a significance beyond serving as toilet paper for tyrants. And we don’t have one of those — more’s the pity.

  2. Jim:

    The more Congress meddles, the more I start rethinking some of my positions. I understand that we have to have safety measures for products and equipment, but many Acts passed tell us we don’t know what we are doing. Maybe some people don’t, but give me the statistics and let me make up my own mind.

    I still don’t like the seat belt law although I wear one all the time now since Indiana went to what is considered a “primary” law state – meaning the police can stop you for the seat belt violation without having to have witnessed another violation first.

    What amazed me about the bill was the lack of opposition to the Act – only 8 representatives had the guts to vote against it – and who knows why they did so.

  3. Welcome to the nanny state. What do you think the govt will do with your medical records once it goes to a “single payer” They want to know everything Charlotte has been through and how you may be a problem for the system. Welcome the the anti govt control darkside.

    I do have to think the big pharma would not see this as an attractive consumer base. 1-2 women out of every 1000 and then only the pregnant ones. Seems like big pharma would not see much profit here and Im not beeing. They would definatley have to charge a boatload for it to make the money invested back. Maybe this is simply our congress people thinking they know best for you and me as usual.

  4. Ice:

    The Melanie Blocker Stokes Mother’s Act, or S. 1375, is named after a pharmaceutical sales manager who killed herself by jumping out of a window after receiving four cocktails of antidepressants, anti-anxiety and anti psychotic drugs and electroshock therapy following the birth of her child.

    The Act requires screening of expectant mothers to see if they show signs of mental illness. This is where the prescription drugs come in – not just after the baby is born. You are correct in that one or two cases of postpartum depression in a thousand would not benefit the pharmaceutical companies, but that is not where the profit lies. It is in the screening of all expectant mothers for signs of mental illness. If those signs – whatever they may be – are present, then the expectant mother will be given a prescription for anti-depressant medication for the remainder of the pregnancy.

    Antidepressants contain FDA warnings for everything from doubling suicide rates to birth defects and spontaneous abortions. The FDA has also received reports of the drugs causing mania, psychosis, hallucinations, homicidal ideation and rendering birth control pills ineffective. Yet, despite such warnings, antidepressants are still prescribed for pregnant women and would be authorized under this legislation.

    Can you imagine how an expectant mother will feel emotionally if she shows any signs of mental illness or even a slight depression? If she doesn’t take the medication, she most assuredly will be convinced that something bad may happen to her child because of her depression or mental illness. Then, if she decides not to follow-up with the prescription, she will live in fear that she may harm her child after its birth.

    As to the single payer system and medical records, we are already on our way to that goal. The stimulus package contained roughly $20 billion to start the process of creating a central database of patient records.

    The anti-government control darkside – as you label it – also extends to the government’s quest for private information under the guise of national security. Why do you think I have a bumper sticker that says “No you can’t have my rights, I am not done using them.” I consider the government’s intrusion into bank accounts, reading lists, emails, etc. to be just a big of an invasion as The Mothers’ Act and the health records.

    It seems though people really are willing to give up too much when the government simply says its necessary for national security. Benjamin Franklin said, “Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

  5. Ice:

    It isn’t the screening – it is the results of the screening that will provide the boon to the pharmas. Pregnant mothers often experience ups and downs emotionally and psychologically. If the screening results in a finding that the mother is having some issues, then the doctor will prescribe medications.

    It is the power to prescribe that becomes the tool of the pharmas.

  6. My aunt cried easily for months after the births of each of her three children. It was explained to us that many new mothers had the “blues” for awhile after a birth. But most women couldn’t understand how a new mother could be unhappy. Afterall she had a perfect, lovable baby, and she should be “happy.” Many looked down on her, and some urged her to “get herself together” and “quit feeling sorry for yourself!”

    Now we know that the hormone imbalance causes this, and while it does clear up after a few months, usually, there are drugs that can be prescribed that help. I don’t know if this bill would cause prescriptions before birth. It would seem that would harm the unborn baby? It also seems that the symptoms are very evident and should be reported to a doctor now that we are aware of the medical causes.

  7. Charlotte, you are proving my point. To recap

    Only 1 or 2 per 1000 have this.

    Pharma would not be interested. That is unless doctors PRESCRIBE or DIAGNOSE. So I think you need to take your argument up against BIG DOCTOR. Maybe, direct your hammer at big Doctors looking to take money from pharma, maybe hammer lawyers ready to bring lawsuits because the BIG DOCTOR didnt prescribe the meds.

  8. Ice:

    You are still missing the crux of the Act. It isn’t the existence of postpartum depression after the birth that is the money maker.

    It is the ability to screen while the mother is pregnant, locate signs of depression or some type of mental illness (according to those diagnosing) and then prescribe medication.

    I am not sure how much clearer I can make this. It is the prescribing of medication during the pregnancy that will be where the pharmas make their money, not the existence of postpartum depression after the birth of the baby.

    Let’s say, for example, that every pregnant mother is subject to screening (which is the goal), and let’s say that 50% show some sign of emotional ups and downs (emotional ups and downs are not unusual in pregnancy). At that point the doctor prescribes some form of anti-depressant in what they believe is an attempt to short circuit the oncoming increased emotional problems after the birth of the child.

    The pharms have now picked up a 50% increase in sales of anti-depressant meds. I hope this example makes sense.


    I understand, but still wonder if the big pharma pushed really hard for this. The above attachments shows the drugs that are allowed during pregnacy. So women are already taking these meds appearently so the market share gain would not be as high as if no women were currently taking meds during pregnacy. And just thinking of lawsuits, man, what a nightmare. Birth defects happen all the time, but can you imagine the payout for defects or deaths. It wouldnt even have to be the drugs fault, but a slickster like John Edwards would sieze the day and channel little children in the court room. 30 million here, 50 million there, and you have lost all reason to be in the “depressed pregnant woman market”. Its kinda like Monsanto or Syngenta not wanting to be in high dollar crops because one screw up and the payout is HUGE.

    Look at Zicam. 130 cases of supposed loss of smell in ten years and the FDA wants to pull it off the shelves. No proof, just take it away. The FDA is a govt agency, Zicam is one of Rush Limbaughs big time supporters, dont want to be a conspiracy guy but geez.

  10. I think you are referring to postpartum psychosis which only 1-2 per 1000 have. Still only 10-15% of new moms get “PPD.” Some of the people in favor of this act like to pick on people as though they have made some kind of major mistake in saying Melanie Stokes had PPD and not PPP. I don’t see how that matters since the act now states it’s for both PPD and PPP. Besides as I have shown on my blog in an anaylsis of drug side effects based on a drug label, the incidence of psychosis on antidepressants is higher than the incidence of psychosis in the general population. Psychotic effects are frequent events with these drugs. Check it out:

    There’s a lot more information on this blog. Thanks for your article.

  11. By the way, I strongly disagree that the act is intended to protect innocent infant life. The people promoting the bill promote drugs during pregnancy and breastfeeding and are on call to attempt to dispute / minimize / discredit any and all efforts to offer up accurate information about the deadly risks of antidepressants etc. for unborn and newborn babies who are exposed in utero / through mother’s milk.

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