Last week, the House of Representatives passed the Melanie Blocker-Stokes Postpartum Depression Research and Care Act, which encourages research on postpartum depression and a public awareness campaign, and authorizes $3 million to be appropriated for these purposes in 2008.
After passing the House on a 382-3 vote, it has been referred to the Senate’s Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. Three votes against the bill were supplied by Republican Representatives Broun (GA) and Flake (AZ), and Presidential candidate Ron Paul (R-TX).
An amendment was added to the bill prior to passage by Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA) adding abortion to the list of research topics which could receive some of the alloted funding, as follows:
It is the sense of Congress that the Director of the Institute may conduct a nationally representative longitudinal study (during the period of fiscal years 2008 through 2018) of the relative mental health consequences for women of resolving a pregnancy (intended and unintended) in various ways, including carrying the pregnancy to term and parenting the child, carrying the pregnancy to term and placing the child for adoption, miscarriage, and having an abortion. This study may assess the incidence, timing, magnitude, and duration of the immediate and long-term mental health consequences (positive or negative) of these pregnancy outcomes.
Pitts has previously introduced legislation, including a bill submitted earlier this year, focusing on mental health after abortion. “Post-abortion syndrome” is a common focus of anti-choice groups in their arguments that access to abortion harms women, despite evidence that women choosing abortion do not suffer disproportionately high rates of mental health issues. The New York Times published a lengthy examination of this topic earlier this year.