Attention advocates of America’s mothers and the thousands of courageous women who are experiencing or who have survived a pregnancy or postpartum depression – you have not been forgotten. For among the significant challenges facing the 111th Congress, the issue of untreated maternal depression remains a top priority.
One new Congressional focus is the rebuilding of national infrastructure. One might make the analogy that this should include enhancing the healthy infrastructure of our families by ending the preventable plague of maternal mood disorders which continues to ravage over 800,000 women – and their infants and families – every year. The long-term consequences of untreated maternal depression range from chronic illness, child learning disabilities, family stress and economic loss - to death.
Congressman Bobby L. Rush has reintroduced The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act to the 111th Congress. During the 110th Congress, the legislation had over 130 bi-partisan cosponsors and passed the United States House of Representatives on October 15th, 2007 by a vote of 382-3. I was so very proud to be sitting in the Congressional Gallery on that triumphant day as a unified Congress validated the suffering of millions of American women and families by promising more support to help end this public health crisis. Congressman Rush never forgot the Chicago constituent – Melanie Blocker Stokes – who lost her life to this illness and whose tragic death inspired his decades long devotion to end maternal suffering.
In the U.S. Senate, Sen. Robert Menendez has been similarly steadfast in his devotion and promotion of The MOTHERS Act. Initially based on New Jersey’s groundbreaking law inspired by PPD Survivor and former New Jersey First Lady Mary Jo Codey and spearheaded to passage by her husband N.J. State Senate President Richard Codey, the passage of this legislation has resulted in increased availability of services, public awareness campaigns and state-wide hot lines responsive to the crisis.
While repeated attempts by Sen.