dated April 2, 2009
A bill that would subject pregnant women to mental health screenings – and possibly medications that would follow any diagnosis of "depression" – has returned and already is more than halfway through Congress, a concerned family group is warning.
WND reported a year ago when the plan was proposed to allow the government to order tests on mothers for baby blues. The proposal later died.
However, officials with United Nonprofits and Individuals for Truth and Ethics say the bill is back, and it already has been approved by the U.S. House and assigned to a Senate committee under the designation S.324.
It's named the "Melanie Blocker Stokes Mother's Act" after a pharmaceutical sales manager who killed herself by jumping out of a window after receiving four cocktails of antidepressants, anti-anxiety and anti-psychotic drugs and electroshock therapy following the birth of her child.
UNITE leaders cite other examples of situations they say could re-occur should the bill become law.
2005: A 30-year-old Indiana mother taking anti-depressants ends up facing charges she murdered her two sons, ages 2 and 9.
2001: Andrea Yates is accused of drowning five children, ages 6 months to 7 years in the family bathtub. She had been taking anti-depressants Effexor and Remeron.
2004: Emiri Padron stabbed herself in the chest after smothering her baby daughter. Zoloft was found in her apartment.
New Jersey already has implemented a plan similar to the new federal legislation, and it currently screens new moms for conditions that could be treated chemically. Lisa Bazler, a former therapist, told WND the federal plan is essentially the same as the 2008 proposal, which specified the government "shall" educate women concerning postpartum depression "before such women leave their birthing centers" as well as "screen new mothers for postpartum conditions."
The newest plan makes some changes in the wording, ordering that officials are "encouraged" to do research on postpartum conditions and that "activities … shall include conducting and supporting" research, development of better screening and "information and education programs for health care professionals and the public."
Bazler told WND the key is the wording that provides no informed consent for those who are being "studied" and "treated."
"The vagueness of the language this year means that they will probably do even more than we can imagine – there is no specificity to lock them into any sort of exact program," she warned. "They can do with it what they want.
"What is being done currently, if you look under the hood and at the legislative history of the bill and all the front groups pushing it, is a movement towards universal mental health screening – including mandatory screening of women as they do in New Jersey – and preventive drugging during pregnancy or postpartum," she said.
UNITED has a link to a YouTube video that shows one family's encounter with Effexor, an anti-depressant. The video also is embedded here: In Memory of Indiana (Effexor Infant Death Antidepressants Pregnancy MOTHERS Act)
An organization called Able Child has launched an online campaign to allow those interested to email Congress with their concerns.
"Tell them you strongly oppose the MOTHERS Act," said Patricia Weathers and Sheila Matthews of Able Child on the website.
According to Bazler, the bill would impose "a highly subjective questionnaire" on mothers about their moods, generating diagnoses that could include depression.
"These labels almost ALWAYS lead to an antidepressant drug prescription, and antidepressants are known to cause SERIOUS SIDE EFFECTS including suicide, homicide, and infant death," she wrote.
New Jersey's "first-of-its-kind" law requires doctors to "educate expectant mothers and their families" about postpartum depression and to screen the mothers for the condition.
UNITE founder Amy Philo has described her own experience with Zoloft:
"I had a hallucination where I was walking past the stairs, and I was carrying my son to the bassinet," Philo said. "I looked over and visualized a ghost of me standing on the stairs and throwing him over. That's when I thought I was really about to snap."
She sought a change in her prescription and ended up locked up in a hospital.
"There was no counseling or anything. I was locked up like a prisoner, and I was there from Saturday to Monday." Finally, she quit taking her prescription completely. "That's when I finally got better."