The House on Monday voted 382-3 to pass a bill (HR 20) that would authorize $3 million in grants in fiscal year 2008 to study the causes and treatments of postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis, CQ Today reports.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.), also would provide grants through HHS for the "establishment, operation and coordination of effective and cost-efficient systems for the delivery of essential services" for women with the conditions and their families.
The measure initially would have directed NIH to conduct research on postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis, but a House subcommittee in July approved an amendment that changed the language from "directed" to "encouraged." The bill would authorize "such sums as necessary" to continue the research for FY 2009 and FY 2010. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the measure could cost $15 million over five years if grants and other programs in the bill are funded.
The bill also encourages the National Institute of Mental Health, NIH and the HHS secretary to carry out a national campaign to increase awareness and knowledge of postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis, the AP/Google.com reports.
The measure also includes language that calls for a study into mental health issues related to abortion and miscarriages. Rep. Joseph Pitts (R-Pa.), who opposes abortion rights, said that although postpartum depression is a serious disease, it is "just as important to know the effects of adoption, miscarriage and abortion in order to properly help women".
According to a CDC study, about 18% of women experience depression after giving birth. The Senate has introduced a companion bill (S 1375) that does not contain abortion-related language. According to a Rush aide, Rush's staff will speak with Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), sponsor of the Senate legislation, about making his measure more similar to the House bill. Rush said, "No longer will postpartum depression be dismissed as mere 'baby blues'".
Source: Kaiser Family Foundation