Pregnant and new mothers may be required to submit to government screening and treatment for depression if Democrats in Congress have their way.
The Melanie Blocker Stokes Mother’s Act, or S. 1375, is named after a pharmaceutical sales manager who killed herself by jumping out of a window after receiving four cocktails of antidepressants, anti-anxiety and antipsychotic drugs and electroshock therapy following the birth of her child.
The Mother’s Act would provide federal funding for a program to test women for depression, mood and anxiety disorders and postpartum psychosis. It would also supply government-determined “at-risk” mothers with antidepressant drugs.
Amy’s shocking story
Amy Philo, founder of United Nonprofits and Individuals for Truth and Ethics (UNITE) and co-founder of Children and Adults Against Drugging America, has testified in Food and Drug Administration hearings on antidepressants. She strongly opposes the act because she says the drugs nearly ruined her life following delivery of her first child.
After a traumatic incident in which her baby began choking on his formula and was rushed to the hospital by paramedics, Philo experienced a panic attack. But when she confided in her doctor, he prescribed antidepressants for her anxiety within one minute of meeting her.
“My original doctor didn’t even want to talk to me at all,” Philo told WND. “He said, ‘OK, well Zoloft is the standard of care for postpartum depression.'”
She submitted to treatment, but her doctor hadn’t given her any warnings about the drugs. After she had been taking the antidepressants, she began to experience bizarre side effects and feared for her child’s safety.
“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.”
With constant thoughts of killing herself and her baby, Philo was afraid to be alone with him.
“I was so suicidal,” she said. “I just wanted to protect him. I didn’t want anything bad to happen to him, and I thought that the only way I could protect him would be if I were no longer around.”
That’s when she decided to ask for help.
She went to the hospital for a different prescription, but something entirely different happened.
“Instead, they locked me up, told me I couldn’t speak with a doctors for a couple of days and I was stuck there, away from my baby,” Philo said. “There was no counseling or anything. I was locked up like a prisoner, and I was there from Saturday to Monday.”
When Philo woke up Sunday she felt better after 24 hours of no antidepressants.
“I wondered if the problems were because of the pills,” she said. “So I asked to talk to a doctor. I said I wouldn’t take any more until I was able to talk to him. He said I had to stay on Zoloft or I wasn’t going home.”
Philo began threatening to call lawyers and media if the hospital wouldn’t allow her to go home. She said she pretended like the homicidal feelings were gone, and when she was released she sought the help of a psychiatrist and a therapist.
“They raised my dose, and it got worse,” she said. “The thoughts became more intense and more constant. They raised the dose again, and the thoughts went from being about killing my son to being focused on killing my entire family and my mother. I was also imagining killing my pets and neighbors and committing suicide by walking out in front of a truck on the highway.”
Finally, Philo’s mother convinced her to consider a pharmacist’s suggestion that the antidepressant could be causing her troubles.
“I finally just decided to go against medical advice and stop taking it,” she said. “That’s when I finally got better.”
Fighting the Mother’s Act
Philo is now one of the leading opponents of the Mother’s Act. She she says it is the government’s way of pandering to drug companies and forcing dangerous medication on new moms.
“It is pretty obvious to me that this bill is to get more women to take drugs,” she said. “The groups that are pushing this also frequently talk about how the drugs are safe for mothers who are pregnant or breastfeeding. They just totally downplay it.”
Antidepressants contain FDA warnings for everything from doubling suicide rates to birth defects and spontaneous abortions. The FDA has also received reports of the drugs causing mania, psychosis, hallucinations, homicidal ideation and rendering birth control pills ineffective. Yet, despite such warnings, antidepressants are still prescribed for pregnant women and would be authorized under this legislation.
“They want to screen every woman that they can find,” Philo said. “It’s really frightening. They even mention case management and transportation services in the bill. It sounds like they will send out social workers to your house to ask you questions. It’s really frightening to think that they could use their subjective tests and determine that you are an unfit parent.”
A very close call?
Sen. Robert Menéndez, a supporter of NARAL Pro-Choice America and Planned Parenthood, is the leading sponsor of the Melanie Blocker Stokes Mother’s Act. The senator represents New Jersey, where many of the world’s pharmaceutical companies are located.
Menéndez sponsored the Mother’s Act on May 11, 2007, but it was stuck in committee until Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid introduced an $11 billion omnibus package called Advancing America’s Priorities Act, or S. 3297. He brought the Mother’s Act back to life July 22 by burying it in the omnibus and asking that the Senate pass the measure without debate.
In addition to the Mother’s Act, the omnibus package contained 36 unrelated bills and created 77 new federal programs. It featured a variety of provisions including: health care, environmental conservation, homeland security, foreign relations and other legislation.
Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., who delivers babies when he’s not in Congress, successfully put a hold on bills in the omnibus due to excessive spending. Reid’s motion for cloture to bypass Senate debate on S. 3297 failed to get the required 60 votes yesterday – 52 Democrats for and 40 Republicans against, with 8 not voting – but opponents warn the battle against the Melanie Blocker Stokes Mother’s Act has just begun. Some say it will only be a matter of time before lawmakers cave and consent to government-imposed mental screening and antidepressant drugs for new mothers.
“They’re just going to keep trying, so we need to raise awareness of the bill and the problems with it and educate Congress about how extremely controversial it is,” Philo said.
“Melanie Stokes would be extremely dishonored by this bill because if it hadn’t been for all of the drugs and electroshock she was given, she wouldn’t be dead today. Her child would have a mother.”
By Chelsea Schilling
© 2008 WorldNetDaily
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