Tag Archives: senate

MOTHER’S Act supporters gather to celebrate enactment of historic postpartum legislation

Today, at 1130 a.m. EST, a gathering will take place. A gathering that has been years in the making, has had some of the most amazing and dedicated supporters I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting, and a gathering that celebrates the thousands and possibly millions of lives which will be saved in the years to come.

Senator Menendez, Rep. Bobby Rush, Carol Blocker, Susan Dowd Stone, Katherine Stone, Sylvia Lasalandra, and several other advocates are gathering on Capitol Hill to celebrate the enactment of the MOTHER’S Act. This is a momentous day indeed.

This past year I spearheaded a blog event to help increase grassroots support of this bill. Several other women also worked diligently to increase support and gather signatures for a petition which was presented to Senators in support of this bill. It was not an easy task. We had opposition. Opposition which attacked us like nothing I’ve ever experienced. They said things about us that simply were not true in an attempt to bring us down and decrease our support for the bill. But it didn’t work. We persevered through their words, through their hatred, through their guilt-ridden tactics. Was it easy? Heck no. But we kept on in the trenches because we had truly been IN the trenches fighting off our own battles with Postpartum Mood Disorders before our births as advocates. We knew what it was like to be tragically alone in that cold, damp place. And we were gonna be damned if we let that continue to be the norm.

Along the way, we proved our compassion for all new moms. We provided resources and supported them as they cried out for help in the darkness of their battle with Postpartum Mood Disorder instead of attacking them for choosing to use certain therapies available to them.We lifted women and families up with love, warmth, and cherished each one of their experiences. We cried with them, laughed with them, celebrated victories and comforted in times of loss and grief. We were there.

We won a good fight.

And today?

Today’s just the icing on the cake – the party.

But beneath that icing, rest assured we will continue our hard work. We WILL be there for all those who contact us, who lean on us for support, for reassurance that yes, YOU too can beat this beast.

Today though, I’m giving you permission to have your cake and eat it too. We’ve damn well earned it.

The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act moves to Senate H.E.L.P. Committee

Here’s Susan Stone’s blog post about the MOTHER’S Act moving into the Senate. Please contact the Senators on the committee to voice your support in addition to contacting your own senator!

After passing by an enormous bipartisan majority in the House of Representatives on Monday, March 30th, The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act has moved to the powerful U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee where it will be “marked up” in the near future.

In addition to adding your name to the state by state listing of national supporters on PerinatalPro, you can email members of the Senate HELP committee at


Below are the members of the H.E.L.P. committee, U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy chairs this committee and is an ardent supporter of this legislation. And Barack Obama was the first presidential candidate to endorse this legislation! With healthcare reform at the center of senate activity, our issue must be heard!

Lisa Murkowski, AK (R) 202-224-6665
John McCain, (AZ) (R) 202-224-2235
Christopher Dodd (CT) (D) 202-224-2823
Johnny Isakson (GA) (R) 202-224-3643
Tom Harkin (IA) (D) 202-224-3254
Pat Roberts (KS) (R) 202-224-4774
Edward Kennedy (MA) (D) 202-224-4543
Barbara Mikulski (MD) (D) 202-224-4654
Richard Burr (NC) (R) 202-224-3154
Kay Hagan (NC) (D) 202-224-6342
Gregg Judd (NH) (R) 202-224-3324
Jeff Bingaman (NM) (D) 202-224-5521
Sherrod Brown (OH) (D) 202-224-2315
Tom Coburn (OK) (R) 202-224-5754
Jeff Merkley (OR) (D) 202-224-3753
Bob Casey (PA) (D) 202-224 6324
Jack Reed (RI) (D) 202-224-4642
Alexander Lamar (TN) (R) 202-224-4944
Orrin Hatch (UT) (R) 202-224-5251
Bernard Sanders (VT) (I) 202-224-5141
Patty Murray (WA) (D) 202-224-2621
Michael Enzi (WY) (R) 202-224-3424

You may call their offices directly to proclaim your support (and you don’t have to be from their state!).

The momentum is growing! In the last few weeks S 324 has picked up additional powerful sponsorship by some of our nation’s most respected professional organizations! We are also grateful to the group who opposes this legislation, because the controversy has catalyzed more scrutiny of the bill’s language, purpose, and initiatives, bringing more educated constituents to our mission and more support for its passage! The bill’s noble purpose is clear to all who read its life saving initiatives.

Many constituents have sent their personal stories which are so inspirational and speak to the unique courage and shared compassion of those who have survived these disorders. The message is the same… they don’t ever want another person to have to suffer like their wife, mother, sister, friend or themselves. They want it to end. With your continued support we will begin to turn the tide this year toward primary prevention.

Correction to MOTHER’S Act Update

Apparently I missed an important fact last night – Motion to proceed to consideration of measure was withdrawn in Senate. (consideration: CR S7554) Click on S7544 to read the text of the proceedings as they played out yesterday afternoon on the Senate floor.

At this point in time, I am not sure what this means for The MOTHER’S Act. I am disappointed in the situation and sincerely hope that this will not dampen the drive for this bill that has been building for so long now.

The MOTHER’S Act Update

As most of you are aware, The MOTHER’S Act is now included in S. 3297, the Advancing of America’s Priorities Act. This Act was discussed on the floor of the Senate today with a vote taken regarding a motion to Invoke Cloture on the Motion to Proceed to consider S. 3297. Basically, this would put a time limit on the consideration of a bill or other matter to avoid a fillibuster. If invoked, cloture limits discussion of a particular matter to only 30 additional hours, however, in order to be invoked, three-fifths of the full Senate or 60 total votes must be cast in favor of this. Cloture failed to pass just shy of the 60 votes needed – 52 were in favor, 40 were not, and 8 (including our two presidential candidates) did not vote.

The Senate will reconvene in the morning at 9am EST to further discuss S. 3297. You can watch live on CSpan 2. (Believe it or not, my daughters actually watched this with me this afternoon for more than 15 minutes! That seemed to be the tolerance level at which they started whining and fussing for me to turn on Diego. I managed to squeeze in another 5 minutes though)

The 40 Senators who voted Nay are listed below. If any of these Senators are yours, please email them, call them, let them know that they cannot let the MOTHER’S Act be held up any longer – we need this bill!

Alexander (R-TN)
Barrasso (R-WY)
Bennett (R-UT)
Bond (R-MO)
Brownback (R-KS)
Bunning (R-KY)
Burr (R-NC)
Chambliss (R-GA)
Coburn (R-OK)
Cochran (R-MS)
Collins (R-ME)
Corker (R-TN)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Craig (R-ID)

Crapo (R-ID)
DeMint (R-SC)
Domenici (R-NM)
Enzi (R-WY)
Graham (R-SC)
Grassley (R-IA)
Gregg (R-NH)
Hatch (R-UT)
Hutchison (R-TX)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Isakson (R-GA)
Kyl (R-AZ)
Lugar (R-IN)
Martinez (R-FL)

McConnell (R-KY)
Murkowski (R-AK)
Roberts (R-KS)
Sessions (R-AL)
Shelby (R-AL)
Snowe (R-ME)
Specter (R-PA)
Stevens (R-AK)
Thune (R-SD)
Vitter (R-LA)
Voinovich (R-OH)
Wicker (R-MS)

MOTHER’S Act Rumors – Breaking the Silence

I consider this post to possibly be one of the most emotionally charged and important posts that I have written to date. Katherine Stone recently addressed this issue and having received a comment here at Unexpected Blessing, I am following suit.

On February 11, 2008, I received notification of a comment in response to one of my MOTHER’S Act posts. This comment blatantly challenged and negated the necessity for the bill and raised an alarmist point of view by claiming that new mothers would become trapped by the system and forced to take anti-depressants, masking the “root” of the problem. This comment also claimed that there is no “valid or concrete evidence proving the existence of such a disorder…” going on to point out that the disorders in the DSM-IV are “voted on….” (see: http://www.acnp.org/g4/GN401000082/CH081.html)

Infuriated with this comment and feeling first hand the ignorance of the individual that wrote this, I remained silent until I could calmly and rationally respond.

First, let me assure you, I have LIVED the valid and concrete evidence that proves the existence of this very disorder. It has disrupted my life, it has disrupted my family’s life, and it has changed me as a person. Through this challenge, I have found my way out of the rabbit hole and I have found many others who have also found their way out or are currently working their way out.

I have also suffered without treatment – because my first doctor decided that I didn’t fit the criteria for PPD – and was refused treatment based on this and the fact that I refused to stop nursing – something I was asked to do WHILE MY INFANT WAS SCREAMING TO BE NURSED! I knew from research and contact with others that I could be treated with medication. I also know now that I needed medication – because I tried to recover on my own but was unable to so, resulting in Progressive Postpartum Depression that continued into my second pregnancy, leading to early delivery and ultimately to my hospitalization when I was unable to do anything but curl up in the fetal position and rock back and forth, staring out my window, praying that I wouldn’t do anything to my children.

I believe in this bill because I have lived through the very depths of the condition it is fighting to uncover and remove the stigma of so that the next mother who suffers will not have to suffer in silence, will not have to go to her doctor and be rejected and told to “suck it up” and that this is a normal part of motherhood, something that she should get over, something that shouldn’t be happening because she is more than 6wks postpartum and therefore all her hormones should be back to normal by now. Clearly if a woman is seeking treatment (which by the way, is the HARDEST step), she has a reason to do so. And anti-depressants are not always the answer – there are plenty of other therapies that can be explored and may work for certain individuals.

The point is that mothers should feel as if they can work with their physicians as part of a team and not be disregarded nor dismissed when they finally push the tears and anxiety far enough away to make that plea for help. And let’s not forget that these are innocent victims – the mothers, the infants, the fathers, the families that are plagued by this tragic disease every day. It turned our world completely upside down and does even more to other families. I know I was lucky – I got help, I encountered physicians who were open to my plight and willing to lend a hand to help me climb out of my dystopia, encouraging me to turn and fight, making me believe that I could beat this. And I did beat it. I refuse to let anyone fight this alone as a result. If my story saves just one life, it will all have been worth it. I will fight for women and families to have access to fair and non-judgemental care until the day I die.

Ultimately I am pleading the case FOR the MOTHER’S Act. But I will tell you what I tell any woman in the midst of a postpartum crisis I come in contact with. Educate yourself. Get the facts, get them straight, verify them, and then speak. This is a free country and everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but everyone should also be entitled to fair and just healthcare and not be afraid to make that phone call for fear of being dismissed or shrugged off. Postpartum Depression IS real. I have been there. I know a LOT of other women who have been there – it has been with us for thousands of years and yet we still live with the stigma. It is only with openness and research that acceptance and fair treatment will come. Please don’t deny new mothers the access to proper care that they deserve and so desperately need. So many times I have heard of doctors passing on bad advice or being dismissive, even in my hometown I have heard stories of women being told “Well if you’re not suicidal or thinking about hurting your baby, you’re fine” Excuse me??? So you want me to call you back AFTER I’ve done something. NO!!!! Preventive care is the best care – any cardiologist or oncologist would tell you that if this were heart disease or cancer we were discussing. But it’s not. It’s a mental illness. A DISEASE of the mind that these new moms did NOT ask for and want to be free from so they can enjoy their new babies and roles as mothers. Trust me, if we could free ourselves from these bonds on our own, we would.

So go forth, educate yourselves, read the text of the MOTHER’S Act, contact your Senator, ask questions, contact Senator Menendez. Contact PSI (who, by the way is NOT funded in any way shape or form by the pharmaceutical industry!), contact your local mental health advocacy group. But please, before you buy into what these naysayers have to cry from their mountaintops, check out the facts for yourself.