This proposal seeks to include postpartum psychosis as a moderating condition in the penalty phase - it does not seek to remove responsibility for infant welfare.
There is one misquote in the article that is important to correct. Instead of “for every mother who receives treatment, there are ten who are in jail”, that statement should have read, “For every mother whose trial results in mandated psychological treatment only, there are ten who may receive jail time under current legal mandates”.
Providing this new and historic option to jurors during the penalty phase following conviction offers the option of assigning more appropriate and compassionate treatment, including intensive psychological care. By its very existence this legal option serves to decriminalize acts related to severe maternal psychosis, assign appropriate causative factors and add emphasis to the need for awareness, earlier detection, intervention and even the shared responsibility of family and providers in bringing the mother to treatment. Such tragedies can be prevented which is the ultimate goal of the maternal mental health movement.
While many other civilized countries in the world already have an infanticide defense that does NOT include jail time, the United States continues to lag behind in our legal and social understanding of these disorders.
In other activities which bring opportunities for primary prevention and awareness, efforts are underway on the state and federal level, such as The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act, to initiate public awareness campaigns, conduct more research and offer assessment, support and screening to mothers during and after pregnancy. The bill is named after Melanie Blocker Stokes - an intelligent, successful and devoted young mother who leapt to her death as a result of postpartum psychosis. The bill was reintroduced to the 111th Congress by U. S. Senator Robert Menendez in the senate and Congressman Bobby L. Rush in the House of Representatives this past January.
Postpartum psychosis is an extremely rare (less than 1 in a thousand) condition in which a mother may be susceptible to “command hallucinations”, i.e.