Many people fear H.R.20 would require that all mothers would be screened for postpartum depression shortly after the birth of their child. The screening could consist of a list of questions designed to see if a mother is fit to take her newborn child home from the hospital, but what exactly would be asked in this multiple choice questionnaire and would it be mandated?
The Health Freedom Alliance explains:
The bill authorizes health care workers to screen mothers for post partum depression and offer them "help" in dealing with and overcoming it. A scenario is easily developed where a family is denied the ability to take their child home after a hospital birth because a mother failed to answer a series of subjective questions on a multiple choice test correctly. Or even worse chose not to vaccinate their new born with deadly toxins. Of course, that denial to take your baby home can be overcome if you just take this little pill here and agree to in home monitoring until you are pronounced OK. Think on this: Do you have any idea how hard it is to be declared sane after being declared unsane?
Postpartum depression is a serious illness that affects 12 to 20 percent of women, especially teenage mothers, mothers with less education, and those with a history of depression. Would a screening questionnaire given before a mother left the hospital really be effective? How quickly do the effects of postpartum depression show up?
H.R.20 was first introduced in 2007. It was reintroduced in January of this year. Like many bills, it is well intentioned: "To provide for research on, and services for individuals with, postpartum depression and psychosis," but would it mandate mental health screenings? In reading the text of H.R.20, I find nothing about mandate screening. The Mothers Act does include, "(3) The development of improved screening and diagnostic techniques," but nothing about mandated screenings. I think the fear lies in the section on grant recipients:
(b) Certain Activities- To the extent practicable and appropriate, the Secretary shall ensure that projects funded under subsection (a) provide education and services with respect to the diagnosis and management of postpartum conditions. The Secretary may allow such projects to include the following...‘(4) Providing education to new mothers and, as appropriate, their families about postpartum conditions to promote earlier diagnosis and treatment.
Would grantees be required to screen all new mothers they serve? Is that where the fear and paranoia are coming from?
If screening simply involves looking over a mother's previous mental health history to see if she has experienced depression before and then providing her with support, then I see no harm. If all mothers are screened with a tool that considers choices not to vaccinate as a sign of mental health, then many of us are in trouble, however, H.R. 20 itself does not mandate such screening in all hospitals across the US.
Image: iandeth on Flickr under a Creative Commons License