Tag Archives: legislation

Senator Coburn: A walking oxymoron

Tom Coburn makes my head hurt!!!!!!!

Seriously. I was doing my homework on Senator Coburn last night and landed a headache miles longer than Route 66.

Senator Tom Coburn, R, OK, has been by far one of the staunchest opposers of the MOTHER’S Act.

BUT –

He’s an OB

He’s delivered 4,000 babies.

Statistics would lead you to believe he’s seen at LEAST a few cases of PPD, right?

According to Dr. Coburn, breastfeeding is automatic protection against postpartum mood disorders. (Ok Sen Coburn – so where was my protection when I was exclusively nursing my first daughter or exclusively pumping for my second? seriously – where was it? Was it hiding under some mysterious rock? Behind my back? Did I leave it at the hospital? Perhaps my first OB stole it from me – but wherever it was, I sure as heck didn’t have it!)

His primary argument for being against The Melanie Blocker Stokes Act? He doesn’t support disease specific legislation. Yeah, um, ok.

Let’s delve into some legislation Senator Coburn has authored, shall we? (By the way, everything below was pulled directly off his Senate website)

Guaranteeing Patient’s Rights (author)

A law to guarantee patients’ rights for those enrolled in Medicare and Medicaid, including timely access to primary and specialty health care providers, a timely grievance process with appeals, an explanation of the enrollee’s rights and plan information, and prohibitions on restrictions on communications between patients and doctors and financial incentives to encourage health care providers to deny medically necessary care. Provision contained within Public Law 105-33, signed 8/5/1997.

YET Dr. Coburn does NOT accept Medicaid/Medicare patients at HIS OWN PRACTICE! (OK Medical Board website)

Streamlining the Approval of Disease Diagnostics (author)

A law to improve the review and approval process of radiopharmaceuticals (articles used in the diagnosis or monitoring of a disease). Provision contained within Public Law 105-115, signed 11/21/1997.

(Is it just me or is the word DISEASE not only in the title but the description too?)

Protecting Babies from AIDS (author)

A law to require all pregnant women to be counseled about and offered testing for HIV to prevent the transmission of the virus to unborn and newborn babies.  Provision contained with Public Law 104-146, signed 5/20/1996.

(Hmmm. AIDS is a disease. Pretty specific one too. AND this one requires counseling and an offer of a test)

Treating and Preventing HIV/AIDS (author)

A law to provide access to AIDS treatment for underinsured Americans living with HIV, including counseling for those with HIV emphasizing it is the continuing duty of those infected not to infect others with the disease.  Public Law 106-345, signed on 10/20/2000.

(Wow. Treating AND Preventing HIV, huh? Feeling a little warm over here…)

Providing Access to Affordable Prescription Drugs (author)

A law to allow Americans to import prescription drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Provision contained with Public Law 106-387, signed 10/28/2000.

(So he’s ok with importing drugs that yes, may be approved by the FDA but only God knows from where some of them are sourced. Yet he wants to deny new moms access to care and aid for Postpartum Depression?????)

Preventing Cervical Cancer(author)

A law to educate the public about human papillomavirus (HPV), a leading cause of cervical cancer, including how to prevent HPV infection. The law also requires condoms to be relabeled with a warning that condom use does not protect against HPV infection. Provision contained within Public Law 106-554, signed 12/21/2000.

(Wow. A law to educate the public about a DISEASE. Again – common ground?)

Source: http://coburn.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=AboutSenatorCoburn.Accomplishments on April 21, 2009 @ 1132pm.

Seriously though.

Postpartum Mood Disorders should not be a ping pong ball across the aisles of the Senate. Just as it is not black and white out here in the real world as to who will get it, it’s not JUST a Democratic Issue. It’s not JUST a Republican Issue. It’s an every party issue. It’s a 20% of ALL new moms issue. It’s a 50% higher risk of repeat for survivors the second time around. It’s a 95% risk of repeat for survivors the third time around! It’s a 2.3x higher risk for Moms who have husbands/partners deployed issue. It’s a 3x higher risk for first time Moms over the age of 35 developing Postpartum Psychosis issue. It’s a HUGE issue, ok?

I want to know at what point in the feminist movement Moms got screwed over. When did we become ok with chilling on the back burner? Where is Susan B Anthony when we need her? Anyone out there in need of a kick in your activism spirit? Watch Iron Jawed Angels. It’s about suffrage. And man did those chicks go through it. I HOPE it doesn’t come to that but I am passionately determined to get this bill passed. Thing is, I can’t do it by myself.

Senator Menendez can’t do it by himself. Neither can Congressman Bobby Rush. Or Carole Blocker. Or Susan Stone. We need YOUR help, YOUR voices. Your stories of survival, strength, and experiences with a system that is failing new families each and every day. We HAVE to raise awareness.

Don’t wait any longer to pick up that phone and call the H.E.L.P. Committee. Go to your email and send a message RIGHT now to Susan Dowd Stone (susanstonelcsw@aol.com). Include your name, state, and any professional credentials or organizational affilitations. Let others know you support the MOTHER’S Act.

SPEAK UP!

From the trenches…

Today I’d like to focus on the real faces and true stories of Perinatal Mood Disorders.

These are the stories of everyday people who have ferociously fought to survive this insidious illness.

These are the people who realize the true value of The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHER’S Act. They passionately support the legislation.

Many of them are also now ardently dedicated to supporting others as they tread on this dark and lonely path.tea-cup-and-strainer1

Got a few minutes?

C’mon in – grab a cup of tea and sit down.

Let me introduce you to a few of them.

Meet Heather. Her brush with Postpartum Depression began during the pregnancy of her first child. Anxiety and intrusive thoughts settled in, causing her to obsess about birth defects of her unborn infant. Things went from difficult to worse when Heather experienced a reaction to a pain medicine administered during labor. She awoke at 7 hours postpartum only to witness her son receiving oxygen. Once home, she stopped sleeping, going days without rest. Her milk supply dried up as a result of the intense stress she was experiencing. Heather and her family moved in with a family member as it was no longer safe for her to be on her own. With an intolerance to all medications (including antibiotics), she sought help via talk therapy and a kinesiologist. After a few months of therapy, she was given a clean bill of health. Heather now serves as a moderator at the Online PPD Support Page and finds helping others very rewarding and meaningful. You can read more of Heather’s story by clicking here.

Ruth Rhoden Craven & son

Ruth Rhoden Craven & son

Then there’s Helena Bradford, one of the most amazing women I have ever had the privilege of knowing. Her daughter Ruth Rhoden Craven tragically ended her life after struggling with Postpartum Depression. Doctors were unable to help and some bad internet advice led the family to believe all Ruth needed was a vacation. How wrong they were! Helena works each and every day with a determination to prevent what happened to Ruth from happening to others. She is deeply rooted in her faith and believes without a doubt that the Lord has used Ruth to further the cause of PPD awareness. Helena has an amazing will. She is standing strong despite her tragic loss. Read an interview with Helena by clicking here.

headshot_bob-gibbsAnother parent who has joined the battle is Bob Gibbs. Bob lost his daughter and grandson, Jennifer Gibbs Bankston and Graham Bankston on December 19, 2007. This particular story is very hard for me to write about. I gave birth to my son on December 18, 2007, just a day before Jenny and Graham lost their lives. Even in the face of this tragedy that would cause most to buckle and falter, Bob and family have instead garnered strength and power. They have turned their loss into a powerful outreach program which has garnered national recognition. Jennyslight.org is a powerful and energetic new force within the Postpartum Advocacy landscape, one we hope will continue for a very long time. While we are saddened for their loss, we are thankful for their dedication and passion to families struggling with Postpartum Mood Disorders. Get to know Bob Gibbs in his own words by clicking here.

cheryljazzar1Meet Cheryl Jazzar. She experienced a psychotic break after the birth of her first child and was subsequently hospitalized. The break destroyed her marriage and she lost her child as a result. Five years later found her remarried with another child on the way. She experienced a depression a few months after birth. Using self-care, she rebounded quickly and knew she had something to share. Cheryl began to educate herself regarding alternative and complementary methods of treatments available to mothers during the perinatal period. She quickly became quite knowledgeable regarding non-traditional methods of treatment with a strong desire to share this with other mothers. Cheryl is a passionately dedicated volunteer for PSI and also blogs at Wellpostpartum regarding alternative and compassionate care. You can read Chery’s interview here.

danscottNow I’d like to provide a different point of view. A mom is not the only one affected by a Postpartum Mood Disorder. Her husband is also affected. Meet Dan Scott, a father who has stood by his wife as she struggled three times with a Postpartum Mood Disorder. Each time was a unique experience, one that tested their marriage and their faith. Dan states that the second time around was the worst – there are moments they don’t even remember because the circumstances were so dark. As a result of his journey, he finds himself more sensitive towards new mothers. He recognizes the hard times the birth of a child can bring. He advocates for new fathers to step up and take their vow of “for better or for worse” seriously. Dan believes he is a better man for having been through this with his wife. Want to read more about Dan’s story in his words? Click here.

Last but not least, I’d really like to introduce you to a mom named Jamie. She’s a mother to one daughter and is due to give birth in June. Is she scared of experiencing Postpartum Depression again? Absolutely. Has she had issues with mood already during pregnancy? Yeap. But she is bravely speaking up about her experience and is being very pro-active this time around. Her first episode found her not wanting to bond with her child. Instead of being the blissful new mom society tells we should be, Jamie cried, lashed out, and wanted to pack her bags to run away. She finally sought help after her father questioned her constant negativity. Jamie has one piece of advice for new moms. Get help – the sooner the better. Want to read more about Jamie’s story in her own words? Click here.

Now that you’ve had a chance to read some of the true stories of survival, I hope you’re picking up your phone and calling the H.E.L.P. Committee.(If the line is busy, call the next member but keep trying until you’ve spoken with every office!)

Have you emailed Susan Stone yet with permission to be added to a list of supporters? If not, email her with your name, state, and any credentials or organizational affiliations at susanstonelcsw@aol.com right now! (Seriously – you’re already on your computer, right? It takes five seconds!)

I hope you’re blogging to raise awareness and support for The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHER’S Act. Got a twitter account? Raise your voice there too. Share this on Facebook! DIGG it! Don’t let these voices go to waste. Raise yours with them.

Remember in the children’s book, Horton Hears a Who, it wasn’t until the tiniest Who raised his voice that the jungle animals finally believed in the existence of the Whos. We need ALL of your voices. Now.

Blog Week for Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHER’S Act starts at midnight!

candle-wicks1Are you excited?

I am!

Starting tonight at midnight, you’ll be able to get the low-down on all the details of this week’s blog campaign to show support for the Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHER’S Act.

(By the way, there’s an interview with Mary Jo Codey on the way too!)

There will be blogging, twittering, facebooking, myspacing, DIGGing, and whatever other form of social media you’re into.

There will be calling.

There will be sharing, paying it forward, and strength in numbers as those of us dedicated to supporting new moms in the perinatal period raise our voices in support of this important legislation.

Even if you don’t do blogging or social media, call the H.E.L.P. Committee members to let them know you support this legislation. There will be a call script provided at midnight as well. And if you’re in the mood, there will also be a suggested letter to the editor for you to send into your local papers.

Let’s make this one for the record books, folks!

We Cannot Afford to be Silent Any Longer!

Shhhh…. Don’t tell anyone this but Postpartum Depression is fake!

It’s all a ruse by Big Pharma to get you to spend thousands, er, no, millions, on their products.

And that pesky MOTHER’S Act is at the very heart of the ruse.

The above is what the opposition of the MOTHER’S Act would have you believe about Postpartum Mood Disorders and The MOTHER’S Act.

If this were true, I highly doubt Hippocrates would have first written about Postpartum Depression thousands of years ago. (You know, WAY before Big Pharma even existed)

If this were true, then Big Pharma would have ensured my first OB wrote a prescription instead of turning me away and laughing me out of his office when I presented four years ago with rather significant symptoms at three months postpartum. Did I mention I was not “fed” any psychotropic medication or “propoganda”? I knew that thoughts of hurting my child and myself were NOT part of the normal postpartum experience and sought help to keep both of us safe!

Keep in mind that the MOTHER’S Act has been fighting to be passed for eight years now – more than enough time for Big Pharma to have properly funded a ton of education for lots of doctors and civilians. But wait – why do we have accounts of PPD experiences that go much much further back than eight years? What about Milk Fever? What about the UK’s law from 1922 relating to Postpartum Psychosis and infanticide? Wow. Big Pharma really has been at it for much longer then, huh?

And I suppose Charlote Perkins Gilman, author of The Yellow Wallpaper was paid off by Big Pharma to write her story protesting the very treatment of women struggling with Mood Disorders back in the 1800’s too.

If this were true, then Big Pharma “infected” me (twice) with Postpartum Depression just to get me to spend a ton of money on psychiatric medication.

If this were true, I would have been screened and treated with much more scrutiny during my second and third pregnancies because you know, the risk goes up after one episode. (But alas, I was not) Woohoo! More money for Big Pharma, right?

Oh yeah, that seems completely believable, doesn’t it?

Go, read the bill, and decide for yourself.

The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHER’S Act (S 324) does NOT endorse medicating pregnant or postpartum women. It does not even endorse screening of new mothers. The MSB MOTHER’S Act instead provides for a study of screening efficacy, increased education and awareness on both sides – patients and physicians.

Knowledge is power, it is prevention. With each subsequent pregnancy I became more and more educated about my options. I made decisions in consultation with my physicians. As a Coordinator with Postpartum Support International, I encourage women who contact me to explore all their options. I do not encourage medicating specifically but will support whatever decision a mother makes. To medicate or not is a decision to be made between a woman and her doctor. The MSB MOTHER’S Act respects this. PSI respects this. I respect this.

We need to support mothers on their journeys. Twenty percent of new mothers (new or experienced) will experience a mood disorder. And up to 50% of their partners will experience depression as well. The last thing we need to do is to close the door on them. I have had this happen to me with no alternative treatment or options available. It is a very scary place to be indeed and is why I do what I do. I refuse to allow any mothers suffer in silence and fear as I did, holding on for dear life to the precious hope that one day she’ll wake up and be normal again.

Please do not let this happen to any other mothers. Don’t let them suffer in silence. Raise your voice. Let it be heard. Let mothers across the country know they are not alone, they are not to blame, and they will be well, no matter what road they choose towards help. Give them options instead of taking them away. Help us educate physicians. Help us educate American communities and remove the stigma and fear that all too often befalls a new mother struggling with intrusive thoughts, sleepless nights, and sobbing days. Let her know you are there for her. It is time to reach out with open arms and bring back the village that once raised Mothers and Children. The Desperate Village is running out of time and hope. Don’t let your voice be the one that causes their downfall. Speak up now.

(You can Speak up now by visiting Susan Dowd Stone’s website to email her with your name, state, any credentials and affiliated organizations. Your name will then be added to a list of supporters for The MSB MOTHER’S Act which will be delivered to all Senators on Mother’s Day. Won’t you do this one little thing for the Mother in your life?)

Susan Dowd-Stone addresses Anti-Pharma’s use of MOTHER’S Act as “Shaky Platform”

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.

The complete article appears here at EmpowHer.com.

Letter from Mary Jo Codey in support of the MOTHER’S Act

Here is a letter from Mary Jo Codey supporting the MOTHER’S Act. Susan Stone published this at her blog and you can read the complete post here.

Dear Supporters,

In 2004, when my husband was appointed acting governor for the state of New Jersey, I didn’t have to talk my husband into introducing legislation that would not only help women, but save the lives of women , babies and families suffering with this unforgiving illness called postpartum depression. Richard lived the pain with me. He saw the destruction this illness caused the entire family.

The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS ACT will ensure that ALL women and their families are educated about postpartum depression. It would also provide research into the causes, diagnoses and treatments for postpartum depression. This bill will tell ALL women that they no longer have to suffer in shame or silence if they are confronted with feelings of depression during and after the birth of their newborn.

Now is the time to join me and help pass this critical legislation. Please show your support and sensitivity towards an issue that is so dear to my heart by adding your name today.

Warmly,

Mary Jo Codey
Former First Lady, State of New Jersey

Please endorse this critical legislation by sending an email to susanstonelcsw@aol.com with your name, state and any credentials or affiliations you have. The list will be sent to every Senator the week of MOTHERS Day.

Congressman Bobby Rush’s Statement about HR 20

Congressman Bobby L. Rush makes a statement on the House Floor about the MSB MOTHER’S Act.

You can also read reactions to the passage of the bill at Coping with Life by Tom Davis and Postpartum Progress by Katherine Stone.

ONTO THE SENATE WE GO! (Have you called your Senator yet?)

Congressman Bobby Rush’s Statement on H. R. 20 the Melanie Blocker Stokes Mom’s Opportunity to Access Health, Education, Research and Support for Postpartum Depression Act of 2009

Monday March 30, 2009

Madame Speaker, today I rise in strong support of the Melanie Blocker Stokes Mom’s Opportunity to Access Health, Education, Research, and Support for Postpartum Depression Act of 2009.

I would like to thank Chairman Waxman, Ranking Member Barton, my colleague Congressman Frank Pallone, and the Members of the Energy and Commerce Committee who unanimously supported this legislation’s passage out of the committee.

After eight long years, today marks an important step forward in the journey for Congress to fully recognize postpartum depression as a national women’s health priority.

This bill comes to the floor today with strong, bipartisan support. No longer will postpartum depression be dismissed as mere “baby blues.”

Madame Speaker, today, 60 to 80 percent of new mothers experience symptoms of baby blues while the more serious condition, postpartum depression, affects up to 20 percent of women who have recently given birth. Experts in the field of women’s health like Susan Stone, Chair of the President’s Advisory Council of Postpartum Support International, says that these statistics do not include mothers whose babies are stillborn, who miscarry, or who are vulnerable to these devastating disorders which raises those at risk into the millions. The most extreme form, postpartum psychosis, is exhibited in about one percent of all new mothers.

At what should be the happiest time in a woman’s life these mood disorders result in feelings of despondency, tearfulness, inadequacy, guilt and fatigue. In the worst case scenario, if left untreated or not treated properly, postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis has resulted in suicide and infanticide. The consequences of untreated maternal depression in the mother range from chronic disability to death of the infant as well as learning and behavioral disabilities that can negatively impact a child’s development.

In light of all these sobering facts, sadly, I was finally compelled to author H.R. 20 in December 2007 after watching the news accounts of the missing Melanie Blocker Stokes. This bright, vibrant woman who loved life was a first time mother, a successful business woman and my constituent. Despite her family’s valiant interventions, Melanie’s psychosis was so severe that she slipped away and ended her life in solitary agony.

As news of her death swept throughout Chicago, I reached out to Melanie’s mother, Carol Blocker, who told me her daughter’s diagnosis and suicide was the result of postpartum psychosis.

And, sometime later, Dr. Nada Stotland of the American Psychiatric Association, also a constituent of mine, also reached out to me. Dr. Stotland detailed the value of additional research and discussed the under-reporting and misdiagnosis of postpartum depression and psychosis in our country.

There is no denying the fact that the need for resources to combat postpartum depression grows more and more each and every year. Here are the facts:

H. R. 20 will finally put significant money and attention into research, screening, treatment and education for mothers suffering from this disease. Research indicates that some form of postpartum depression affects approximately 1 in 1,000 new mothers, or up to 800,000 new cases annually. This data does not include the additional cases of women who may be vulnerable to these illnesses even after they’ve miscarried or who deliver stillborn infants.

Of the new postpartum cases this year, less than 15 percent of mothers will receive treatment and even fewer will receive adequate treatment; however, with treatment over 90 percent of these mothers could overcome their depression.

Every 50 seconds a new mother will begin struggling with the effects of mental illness.

Madame Speaker, these facts are profound and, in the words of Carol Blocker, “…hundreds of thousands of women, who have suffered from postpartum depression and psychosis are still waiting for Congress to act eight years after legislation was first introduced.”

Madame Speaker, thank you for this day because, today, Mrs. Blocker and hundreds of thousands of mothers will not have to wait any longer for Congress to act!

By passage of H.R. 20, today, we will put mother’s first.

When this bill becomes law, my legislation will:

– encourage the Secretary of Health and Human Services to continue: (1) activities on postpartum depression; and (2) research to expand the understanding of the causes of, and treatments for, postpartum conditions

– express the sense of Congress that the Director of the National Institute of Mental Health may conduct a nationally representative longitudinal study of the relative mental health consequences for women of resolving a pregnancy in various ways

– amend the Public Health Service Act to authorize the Secretary to make grants for projects for the establishment, operation, and coordination of effective and cost-efficient systems for the delivery of essential services to individuals with a postpartum condition and their families.

– Direct the Secretary to ensure that such projects provide education and services with respect to the diagnosis and management of postpartum conditions.

Moreover, this bill is an affordable approach to research and services.

This is good policy, good politics and a good public health bill!

Before I close, I’d like to take a moment to remember and honor the hundreds of thousands of women-women who have lost either their ability to “mother” or, in far too many cases, their lives to postpartum depression.

Madame Speaker, this bill, this day and this moment would not be a reality had it not been for a beautiful, young Chicago native, the late Melanie Blocker Stokes, and the valiant effort her husband and her family made to save her lift but to no avail.

And, even though Melanie did not survive her battle with postpartum psychosis, Melanie’s battle and her ultimate sacrifice will never be forgotten because of our efforts, here, today.

I would like to thank Carol Blocker, my friend, constituent and fellow activist, who with grace and dignity found a way for her daughter’s memory to live on.

I would also like to thank all the groups who support this legislation. Groups like, Postpartum Support International, the Family Mental Health Foundation, the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

I’d also like to acknowledge the tremendous work of groups like the Children’s Defense Fund, the Melanie Blocker Stokes Foundation, Suicide Prevention Action Network, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, Mental Health America, NARAL, National Alliance for Mental Illness, Community Behavioral Healthcare, the March of Dimes, The National Association of Social Workers, National Organization for Women and North American Society for Psychosocial Obstetrics and Gynecology.

I thank these groups and various activists for their relentless efforts to address this issue including calling their congressional representatives and mailing or faxing letters in support of H.R. 20. Our work will not be done until this bill is signed by the President. And, the good news is, this time we have a friend and fellow Chicagoan in the White House.
And, finally, let me once again thank the hundreds of thousands of unsung women, and their families, who have battled postpartum depression in silence or isolation, in some form, for far too long. To those women and their families I say, you will never suffer in silence again.

And, with that, I proudly urge my colleagues to vote “yes” on H.R. 20.

Thank you.