In the Senate, a defiant blockade by one senator, Republican Tom Coburn of Oklahoma has singlehandedly denied this and other bills with a Senatorial procedural loophole never meant to overturn the will of the people.
While Coburn himself failed to appear at a hearing on the legislation - thereby sparing himself and his conscience further consideration of facts which would have made such action impossible, - he sent a surrogate whose mission was to continue his objection to the legislation thereby "denying relief to hundreds of thousands of mothers who suffer from the condition each year" said Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J. who advocated for the bill's passage.
Despite the setback, Menendez reaffirmed his commitment to continue the battle.
“Hundreds of thousands of women across the country suffer at the hands of postpartum depression every year, and they deserve better than the ideological games being played with legislation intended to bring them relief,” said Menendez. “This is a cause I am committed to seeing through, and I will continue to stand up on behalf of mothers suffering from this condition until the blockade is cleared.”
Among the MOTHERS Act’s champions is former New Jersey First Lady Mary Jo Codey; Carol Blocker, mother of the woman for whom the legislation was named; Brooke Shields, who spoke passionately in support of the legislation at a Capitol Hill Press Conference; Valerie Plame Wilson, who wrote about her experiences with postpartum depression in her best selling book Fair Game; and Joan Mudd, who lost her daugher to postpartum depression and formed the Jennifer Mudd Houghtaling Foundation in Chicago, Ill., and many others who remain staunchly committed to this issue.
Congressman Bobby L. Rush who sponsored the bill's counterpart in the U.S. House of Representatives, saw it pass passed in October 2007 with a nearly unanimous bipartisan vote. It would likely have enjoyed the same fate in the U.S. Senate long before now if a handful of legislators were as interested in representing the will of their constituents and the compelling science and research which clearly substantiates the need for this legislation.
Birdie Meyer, president of Postpartum Support International, ( www.postpartum.net ) the bill's lead organizational sponsor said the effects of pregnancy and postpartum depression and anxiety "can be devastating to the mother, the baby, the partner, the family, and society."
"Passing the Melanie Blocker Stokes Mother's Act would have provided nationwide education and recognition of this illness," she said. "Childbearing women and their families deserve to have this education in every city, every hospital, every clinic, everywhere."
"After years of needless suffering, American women need the relief that would have been provided from increased research into the causes of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, better education of healthcare professionals to identify and treat these disorders, and grants for programs and services to help women recover," said Katherine Stone, former director of marketing at The Coca-Cola Company and creator of Postpartum Progress, ( www.postpartumprogress.typepad.com ) the most widely-read blog in the U.S. on postpartum depression. Right: Katherine Stone
"It is critical to foster healthy family development by preventing the serious physical and mental health problems affecting both mother and child that stem from undiagnosed or improperly treated postpartum depression."
The legislation would increase federal efforts to combat postpartum depression by:
· Coordinating and continuing research to better understand the causes of, and treatment for, postpartum conditions. Also, supports a National Public Awareness Campaign to increase awareness and knowledge of postpartum depression and psychosis.
· Creating a grant program for the delivery of essential services to individuals with postpartum depression.
· Conducting a study on the benefits of screening for postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis.