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Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act Becomes Shaky Platform for Frustrated Anti-Pharma Faction

By Expert HERWriter
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In this time of focus on healthcare reform, there are many reasons to educate yourself about legislation presented to Congress – especially when it comes to healthcare for new mothers and infants – our nation’s most critical social dyad.

This is especially true when arguments against lifesaving legislation – the initiatives of The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act - are not grounded in fact and desperate scare tactics are being used to frighten the very population the bill is designed to help –mothers suffering from postpartum mood disorders. Such misrepresentations have the potential to derail the long awaited deliverance of help which could reverse and end such suffering….which affects over 800,000 women a year.

The detractors are crafty. Notice they don’t offer a link to the actual language of the bill on their websites, because if they did…. readers would quickly discover that The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act does not promote medication, in fact, it specifically does NOT fund medication. Nor does The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act mandate screening.

In the light of day – these false arguments are easily refuted by simply reading the bill. Legislators and organizations confronted with these allegations do just that….they read the bill and then thankfully call to endorse it. You can read the long and reputable list of dedicated healthcare organizations that have reviewed The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act in my previous posts - they know it’s exactly what we need NOW.

But in the murky waters of the internet – where those lacking healthcare expertise and appropriate education can operate as covert authorities - such misinformation can feel true, especially when propelled by a well-funded anti pharma machine designed to thwart passage of any legislation that might include medication. Which The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act does NOT!

So for those of you wondering what to believe when confronted by the minority who oppose this bill through video, blog and ideological distortion, here’s what you can do. Do what the senators on the H.E.L.P. committee are doing right now. READ THE BILL


Then go back and take a look at these misguided arguments which fail to associate a single allegation with anything that is actually in the bill. This group is really angry about medication, psychiatry and the whole concept of postpartum depression. Some of them had very difficult experiences for which they have my sympathy and understanding. But attempting to deny others access to the lifesaving maternal healthcare offered by this bill speaks to a far more sinister perspective of denying the issue exists. They want you to think they know better than you, that they have access to the “real intent”. You’re the naive constituent drawn to the seductive promise of increased funding for postpartum depression research, education and access to help! Thankfully, they are a tiny minority.. but they are a noisy one, so beware!

If you investigate the easily traceable background of some of these individuals, you may find associations with institutions ala the early Tom Cruise way of thinking (for which Tom apologized). They are anti pharma and anti psychiatry no matter WHAT the issue. They seem blind to the very real need to comprehensively address this public health crisis of maternal depression.

They will not be there to help you when you are going through the ravages of PPD, but they want to deny you access to the full range of choices that can lead to your recovery.

The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act will help provide support services to women suffering from postpartum depression and psychosis and will also help educate mothers and their families about these conditions. In addition, it will support research into the causes, diagnoses and treatments for postpartum depression and psychosis.

There is nothing in this legislation that forces women to be screened for postpartum depression.

There is nothing in this legislation that forces that women take drugs for postpartum depression.

Treatment options are best left as individual decisions made between caregiver and client. The bill does not cover, encourage or subsidize the use of medications in any way. The grant is intended to cover therapy or counseling, but would not cover medications.

Lacking arguments of any substance, these groups have resorted to attacking the motives and ethics of the many respected national organizations and individuals who promote the legislation, attempting to “out them” as having some ulterior motive in supporting the bill’s passage. These are the desperate tactics of a group who know their arguments lack a truthful basis and who rightly fear such tactics will fail.

The truth is that the supporters of this legislation are among the most respected, dedicated, altruistic, intelligent and amazing individuals I have ever met. They are admired educators, authors, healthcare providers and achievers. They are mothers and families who have lost loved ones to these illnesses. They are mothers who are suffering right now and praying every day that our country will do something to prevent despair. They are women like Mary Jo Codey and Carol Blocker – Melanie’s mother – who have devoted their lives to promoting this bill. They are public and private advocates who want to stop the suffering. They are powerful legislators like Senator Robert Menendez and Congressman Bobby L. Rush, whose reputations and careers merit our highest regard. And they are you and me and every stakeholder who has ever been a mother or a child.

The antipharma fight has gone on for years – it’s nothing new that was inspired by this legislation. Of course there are people for whom medication does not work. This is true with every medical condition known to man. So should we suspend medications just to spite “big pharma” for not producing the one size fits all silver bullet? Shall we just let millions of cancer patients, diabetics and severely mentally ill people languish in preventable misery? Should we ignore what research tells us about the life saving powers of every medication from penicillin to Prozac?

The most egregious aspect of these misrepresentations is the further victimization of suffering mothers by playing on their fears with falsehoods. What could possibly be the motive in predicting such a dire outcome for such a well meant initiative? When we pass The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act, women in all economic and social strata in every state across the union will be able to find the help they need to return to health. How can one possibly distort this transparent intent?

So please add your name to the rapidly expanding list of state by state supporters at www.perinatalpro.com And then ask three more people to do so as well. Call members of the senate H.E.L.P. committee whose names and phone numbers are listed in my previous article. Truth has always been the most powerful advocate.


Add a Comment7 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

These last several comments are the source of any "fear" with regard to the Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act. Please read the bill. There is no call for mandated screening. The bill supports many activities and does NOT fund medication!! It will fund many of the services which you describe above which have been so helpful to new mothers. The only fear being generated is posts by those who seek to dictate treatment to all women instead of allowing women to choose their own options! No two recovery plans are similar; attempting to shame and fear women who may choose to take medication is hardly an inclusive or open minded attitude! Please read the bill before you comment; the bill's purpose is to help new mothers who may need or want services! Services eligible for funding could be as varied as all proposed in these comments! Home help, massage, counseling, education, etc. Also, the "baby blues" - a benign and self resolving condition - are NOT postpartum depression! If you read the recent article on Senator Menendez's recent press conference (and Senators' Edward Kennedy and our president Barack Obama support this bill) Senatgor Menendez directly addressed the misinformation being spread about this bill. NO mandated screening. No mandated drugging! Thankfully, the millions of individuals represented by the the organizations and constituents across the country HAVE read the bill and they welcome the supportive services it will fund which will be god sends to so many.

May 26, 2009 - 7:46am
EmpowHER Guest

It's not the place of Congress to pass such laws anyway. Congress has been stepping WAY out of its bounds these past several decades. If Congress didn't pass laws that were unconstitutional, then the members would be a LOT less busy.

May 25, 2009 - 2:37pm
EmpowHER Guest

Women must not give away their power at this time by agreeing to any of this so called help.

Why are the baby blues referred to as a dis- order- implying it is a disease, when in fact it is all part of becoming a mother in a world too busy to truly see what is needed by real women.

Instead we have given our power away to patriarchal men and women who have never experienced motherhood and never will.

For the bigger picture- of course patriarchal system wants total control over the last aspect of the woman- mother- creation.

The system has demonised the virgin and the crone, and now they move in on motherhood.

The psychos have taken the place of the priests and the witch hunts, and the only way to get total control over the sacred feminine is to demonise mothers in any way possible.

This Bill has already had the desired affect- FEAR.

Let us look at women today, who are brainwashed into thinking we are free, and equal to men.

Rubbish, that is an illusion to keep women working and bringing in tax money.

Meanwhile mothers are now expected to be back at work within days or weeks and leaving the baby to some stranger, thus traumatising mother and baby.

In olden days, there were other older women whom we could talk to and share in confidence our feelings.

But, nothing is confidential in this patriarchal world.

Mothers need to be looked after for 6 weeks like they did in olden times when mothers were respected by the community.

Babies were massaged every day by a women in the village to keep the baby relaxed and help it adapt to this world.

Mothers were massaged and food prepared for them, while they were allowed time to recover.

Where is this today? It is not there, and new mothers are having to do more than ever.

But alas, that is the plan- to wear women down, drain their energy and take control of them.

We women must wake up and recognise how we have been used and abused by those who claim to have set us free- feminists included.

They did not set us free, but enslaved us further through conditioning.

Anyone with one brain cell knows where this bill is going to lead.

Psychos cannot resist diagnosing a dis- order- as how wlse can they line their pockets.

Please be aware of your blood groups also ladies, as certain blood groups are targeted for research.

Think Genome Project- Think Money.

My advice is keep well away from the so called carers.

The depression which is normal for some women after birth will run its course, and once women recognise this and do not panic, then all will be well.

Go for the natural remedies as Mother Nature provides for free.

Beware of synthetic chemicals, as once in the system, anything is possible.

April 24, 2009 - 7:12am
EmpowHER Guest

First let me state that I am a mother of 3 boys and I am very aware and have experienced feelings of sadness and overwhelm directly after the birth of my boys - especially with my first 2 children. What helped me with these depressed feelings were proper nutrition and assistance from my husband in taking care of certain tasks so I could concentrate on my children. It is a very well known fact that much of the negative feelings we mothers experience come from an overabundance and then rapid depletion of hormones and nutrients associated with pregnancy and breast-feeding. That is why nutrition is so important and that is why pregnant mothers and new mothers should receive care from competent doctors properly trained in nutrition as well as proper regard in the home.

I read the act Ms. Dowd. While it does not overtly state that it is promoting medication, under "Title II - Delivery of Servicies - Activities" it is written: "Eligible activities include delivering or enhancing outpatient, inpatient and home-based health and support services, including case management and comprehensive treatment services for individuals with or at risk for postpartum conditions."

How can you then say that the Act "specifically does not fund medication?" Mental health treatment of postpartum depression includes anti-depressants along with counseling. So yes - the act does not overtly market drugs to mothers but covertly it does. It also is promoting screening - "Requires the Secretary of the HHS to conduct study on the benefits of screening for postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis." That isn't even subtle.

I am also a professional woman who was trained in pharmaceuticals. I am very aware of the dangers of anti-depressants and am not misled by clever marketing. I am also very aware of the potential for this bill to be used to market anti-depressants to pregnant women and new mothers. This bill will make it easier for mothers to be labeled as mentally ill which will create demand. Please note that I am not in anyway discounting the feelings of depression that a mother may experience but it is disingenuous for you to try to discredit a woman like me into a generality and dismiss my concerns about this bill without inspection.

Frankly, you either didn't read this bill or you are also part of the marketing ploy.

I don't want my tax dollars used to abuse women and engorge the treasure chests of the pharmaceutical industry which are already burgeoning with booty. This bill will worsen our already overmedicated society and there are already lots of medical studies on the books that contradict the theory behind this.

I, for one, will do everything in my power to stop this bill from coming into being.


April 8, 2009 - 9:26pm
(reply to Anonymous)

Muriel -

I am also mother of three children. It's hard work, isn't it?

I've struggled through two episodes of Postpartum OCD and yes, AD's helped. The first time around I went for help but was turned away even after confessing to intrusive thoughts.

Nutrition is indeed an important component of Postpartum Care. It's a good thing you were aware of this information. Many mothers are not. I certainly wasn't made aware of this component with my first or second episode but thankfully, through thorough research, I had come across a bit of this information by the time I found myself unexpectedly pregnant with my third child and was able to add nutritional supplements and dietary additions to my AD therapy. And I am grateful it worked for me.

This is where the MOTHER'S Act comes in. Through the MOTHER'S Act, many programs similar to ones you sought help from would receive additional funding. Also, there is the potential for more programs to be developed that would focus on alternative and complementary therapies. More and more research is revealing precisely what you've stated in your comment. In fact, a fellow PSI member, Cheryl Jazzar, writes a blog, www.wellpostpartum.com regarding Alternative & Complementary care for the perinatal period.

As a Coordinator with PSI, I often refer women to Cheryl's site for alternative therapy and nutrition information to complement any professional care they are already receiving. I have also supported many women as they seek to handle PPD without medication by referring them to naturopaths and other natural caregivers.

It is important that women - no matter what path they decide to take - receive professional care and attention if they are struggling emotionally after the birth of a child. Yes, AD's and therapy are an option for treatment. But that is just ONE option. Many of us within PSI are well aware of the natural options. We are trained to guide the mother through her choices that best fit her lifestyle. In fact, we are not at all allowed to push mothers into using medications. It's prohibited for us to explicitly speak about medications with mothers. We are able to point moms to research and encourage her to have discussions with her physician but we do not push moms to take drugs. The decision to take an AD is a very personal decision and should absolutely remain that way.

I DO support the MOTHER'S Act.

I stand to gain absolutely nothing from it's passage beyond the comfort of knowing that thousands of mothers suffering with Postpartum Mood Disorders will have access to educated caregivers. That they will no longer fear speaking up about any negative feelings they may have after giving birth. That their community and loved ones will rally around them because their emotions will be UNDERSTOOD and ACCEPTED instead of rejected, increasing chances of mild untreated PPD becoming PPP.

Do you really want to continue to leave these mothers in the dark with limited choices and options? Do you really want to leave them surrounded by the storm of stigma that circles in closer and closer every minute of every day? Is this something you could be at peace with? I certainly couldn't live with that, which is why I am doing all I can to ensure the passage of this bill, and why I spend every free moment providing peer support to women and families in need through my blog, message boards, and project for fathers. It's one of the first things I think about when I wake up and one of the last before I go to sleep.

What are you doing to actively support new moms on the Postpartum Mood Disorder road? How many moms have you helped? How many times have you heard a grateful mother thank you for giving her hope? When was the last time you reached out to a struggling mom to share with her your story?

Mothers and families deserve recognition and fair treatment - regardless of the inclusion of an AD. They deserve choices, options, education. Do you really want to deny them those choices?


April 9, 2009 - 2:30pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

Dear Muriel:

Thank you for your comment. I can understand why you are concerned as you have misinterpreted the bill's intent with regard to medication and screening. The "covert" and sinister outcomes you predict are not even remotely associated with this legislation. As you correctly state, the bill requests funding for research to assess the value of screening, not screening itself.. a goal which seems well aligned with your concerns.

The kinds of services that helped you toward your recovery would be eligible for funding! The bill encourages the funding of ALL services related to postpartum recovery. Let's not shoot ourselves in the foot by predicting a dire outcome or promoting misinformation about its intent. Instead, let's focus on what the bill does offer to thousands of suffering women, a public awareness campaign, outreach, community services, treatment (of all kinds), but no money for medication.

The strong endorsements it has received from the major healthcare related organizations below - all of whom advocate strongly for women, consumers and constituents, speak to the noble and lifesaving initiatives.. all so desperately needed - in this legislation. I encourage you to review your position and join our support.

American College of Nurse Midwives
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
American Psychological Association
American Psychiatric Association
Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs
Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses
Childbirth Connection
Children’s Defense Fund
Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
Family Mental Health Foundation
The Jennifer Mudd Houghtaling Foundation
Jenny's Light
Kristin Brooks Hope Center
March of Dimes
Melanie Blocker Stokes Foundation
Mental Health America
NARAL, Pro-Choice America
National Alliance on Mental Illness
National Association of Social Workers
National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare
National Organization for Women
National Partnership for Women & Families
National Women’s Law Center
North American Society for Psychosocial Obstetrics and Gynecology
OWL- The Voice of Midlife and Older Women
Planned Parenthood Federation of America
Postpartum Support International
Suicide Prevention Action Network USA

You can read the bill here




April 9, 2009 - 4:10am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

Susan said: "you have misinterpreted the bill's intent with regard to medication and screening. [...] As you correctly state, the bill requests funding for research to assess the value of screening, not screening itself[...]

The part of the bill that you refer to comes under:
SEC. 101.


3) The development of improved screening and diagnostic techniques.

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

The key words: "Expansion and intensification of activities", "improved screening" and "new treatments", do not support your statement that "The bill encourages the funding of ALL services related to postpartum recovery." What New Jersey's law has shown is that it DOES support the PREVAILING services - the definition of prevailing being "predominant, generally current". And surveys show that the prevailing services are treatment with anti-depressants.

The language of this bill is vague and uncertain.

It does not promote "ALL" services as the word "services" are not defined in the bill. It DOES say "the delivery of essential services". Your definition of "essential services" and mine may differ. Your doctor's definiton of "essential services" may include AD's - mine might not. There's where it gets "covert" and "sinister".

Ask mother's in New Jersey who reached out for help after NJ passed their version of the Mother's Act and were treated like criminals, scooped up by the police and involunarily transported to the nearest hospital in a squad car.

State authorities there have said they: "heard the "horror stories" [but] we have to err on the side of being conservative" with an illness in which a small percentage of women have killed their children. What was not being said was the women who have committed these unspeakable horrors were on psychotropic medication - the same medication that the FDA has given the strongest Black Box warnings on for suicidiality and homicidal thoughts.

Doctor's in New Jersey have major concerns on the added responsibility and their vunerability to malpractice suits, fearing to discharge women from the hospital after birth.

The Melanie Stokes bill fails to provide for full informed consent. Proper consent should be express, written, voluntary and informed. The bill contains no wording concerning full information about risks and benefits of "essential services". No wording on providing an explicit option to decline services. No wording on the need to provide information on alternatives to prevailing services.

Therefore I will NOT be supporting this bill! And I am doing everything possible to alert others on the potential dangers of individuals in power over MY body/family to interpret this bill their way - without regards to MY consent!

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April 13, 2009 - 8:07pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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