Sanders Turns Blind Eye To Victims, Sponsors Deadly MOTHERS Act

No amount of settlement money from GlaxoSmithKline, no apology, no ban on drugs and no prison terms for pharmaceutical employees could take away Manie’s heart defect, resurrect all the stillborn and miscarried babies who died because of psychotropic drugs, or turn back the clocks and hold Melanie Stokes back from the ledge of her twelfth-story hotel window. Nothing that anyone does could remove my memory of being homicidal toward my son and my family. But we must continue to hold accountable all those who find preventable deaths and ruined lives to be nothing worth worrying about. See the pdf version of this article for a telling graphic from Shari Lusskin on page 4 that was placed next to her conflicts of interest statement in a presentation on perinatal mood disorders and drugs and ECT for nursing and pregnant women.


Sanders Turns Blind Eye To Victims, Sponsoring Deadly MOTHERS Act
by Amy Philo,
214-705-0169, 817-793-8028

MEDIA ADVISORY –August 11, 2008 – The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act, a bill to institute nationwide screening and “treatment” of expectant and new mothers at risk for depression, anxiety, and other “mental illness,” has been pushed by pharma-backed groups for the past several years with little success until recent months. Countless millions of dollars are already being spent each year marketing drugs to women of childbearing age, and an astounding one third of all pregnant women in the U.S. take psychotropic drugs according to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. But pharmaceutical companies are apparently not happy with their current record-breaking profits. When advertising returns diminish and black box warnings for suicide threaten to scare off potential customers, government mandates can sure come in handy.

Senator Bernard Sanders (I-VT) is one man co-sponsoring The MOTHERS Act. (See his recent PAC contributions here. They include tens of thousands of dollars from various groups such as a PAC for “advancing psychology,” “New Jersey First,” and numerous other questionable donations that could alone explain his co-sponsorship of this bill.) An email sent by Senator Sanders’ office responding to opposition against the bill stated that The MOTHERS Act has nothing to do with medication. When asked for a comment, Sanders’ press secretary on behalf of the Senator guaranteed that no women would be forced to take psychiatric drugs as a result of the legislation, should it pass. 

Who will put their faith in Senator Sanders’ assessment of a bill that he co-sponsors quite possibly only because of who contributes to his reelection campaigns? Should the public ignore the fact that a diagnosis of depression, or being “at risk” for depression in the large majority of cases results in a prescription for antidepressants, which then lead to psychosis, homicidal and suicidal ideation and subsequent force drugging with more antidepressants, anti-psychotics, anti-anxiety drugs, as well as electroshock? Or are we supposed to just relax and trust that if Bernard Sanders says so, passing The MOTHERS Act would not increase the disastrous practices of doctors and others in the mental “health” field? 

Rather than face the deception of pharmaceutical companies in promoting antidepressants and anti-psychotics as protective against suicide, the sponsors of The MOTHERS Act continue to turn a blind eye. In addition to suicide and homicide, documented deadly risks of antidepressants include preterm birth, spontaneous abortion, stillbirth, cardiac birth defects, pulmonary hypertension, and fatal birth defects, among others. Because these dangers are undeniable, the financially conflicted proponents of The MOTHERS Act now make desperate attempts to distract from the central goal of the legislation and to appear unbiased and even holistic.

You decide, which is worse – the preemptive and arrogant denial of deaths, serious trauma and emotional suffering that this legislation would bring about for millions of families, or the promotion of these outcomes by some of the most outspoken medication advocates pushing for the bill? And how does Bernard Sanders justify his claim that more women will not be forced when compulsory drugging is already an everyday occurrence in this country? Why pass a bill to screen the nation’s mothers and get them into treatment at all, when women already have the freedom to seek “help?”

In 1988 Jenny Hatch was placed in a Michigan state mental institution for postpartum psychosis and drugged with Haldol. She stayed there for nine days until she could be transferred to a private hospital, where she says she fought back with the staff on the medication issue for two weeks. Ultimately the private hospital sent Jenny back to the state hospital and she fought medications for six more days, telling everyone that she was breastfeeding a baby and could not take their drugs. A judge then ordered “90 days additional incarceration in the hospital and forced meds.” She was sent back to a private hospital where they forced Lithium, Stelazine, and Prozac. When she became extremely suicidal on Prozac, the Stelazine was withdrawn and the Prozac was doubled. Ultimately after finally leaving the hospital, Jenny located a doctor who helped her wean off all medications over a six-month period. She also followed up by beginning a full body detoxification and then went on to have four more children, fortunately with zero psychiatric pills to follow. 

Over the past 18 years Jenny has advocated against forced drugging and her story has been publicized in various magazines and books. But for psychiatry, old habits die hard. In a recent blog entry, Jenny wrote about two women who had contacted her who had a history of psychosis and were told that if they ever had any more children, they would be ordered to take antipsychotic drugs for two full years following the births in order to “prevent” PPP. Similarly, New Jersey’s “MOTHERS Law,” passed in 2006, has already resulted in mothers being forcibly taken to the hospital by police simply for mentioning to their doctors they were depressed or calling a PPD hotline. Force is certainly nothing new in psychiatry, and in fact it has been central to the field for its entire history. It seems that the drug pushers care only about maintaining income at all costs. Those caught by psychiatry cannot be called patients at all but rather, victims.
In 2004 my firstborn, three-day-old son nearly died from choking while trying to vomit formula at Children’s Hospital. We had only arrived at the hospital a few minutes before he choked, and when they sent us home the next day, the trauma of nearly losing my son hit me hard in the form of a panic attack. I was told that having had a panic attack meant I would get severe PPD and should take drugs to “prevent” that from happening. I took Zoloft for only three days before hallucinating murdering Isaac when he was only nine days old. When I sought help at the hospital I was involuntarily incarcerated and forced to swallow more Zoloft despite my suspicions about the drug. They did let me go home eventually, when I faked being stable on the meds because I could not handle the forced separation from my baby and my family. For months I waited for the drug to work and even took higher and higher doses, which resulted in the homicidal obsessions progressing from frequent to constant and being focused on my mother, husband, cats and neighbors in addition to my baby. The higher the dose I took, the less I felt disturbed by these thoughts, and these constant ideas of homicide were followed by thoughts of suicide to protect my son from me. I stopped taking Zoloft after giving it five months to “start working,” and “miraculously” my intense obsession with murdering my son and my family and committing suicide disappeared within a few weeks of my last pill. I survived psychiatric treatment, but that is more than we can say for Melanie Stokes, who went through four hospitalizations and four series of drug cocktails as well as electroshock before her suicide.

Which brings us to the infamous “non-profit” group, Postpartum “Support” International, who claims to be the lead sponsor of The MOTHERS Act, while also maintaining that they have no interest in seeing pharmaceutical companies do well. This group has put countless women in danger by pushing drugs with absolutely no remorse and no mention of the risks, and it has dishonored Melanie Stokes by doing so much of this in her name. PSI also pushes government agencies and the private sector to advertise depression in print and on TV so that women will “admit” their depression and seek “help.” The group espouses the idea that the universal mental screening proposed by The MOTHERS Act is justifiable because too many women apparently do not realize they are depressed and need a screening to tell them so.

Despite being a “non-profit,” the organization consists of numerous mental health professionals who directly benefit from increased diagnosis and drugging of mothers. They also will be eligible to receive grants to carry out enforcement of the nationwide detection of women considered at risk of mental illness, should The MOTHERS Act pass, and they even have these enforcers ready and waiting to start their surveillance as soon as the bill becomes law (or as they hope it will). 

So we’re supposed to trade our freedom and our lives for this bill, and accept that women who do not feel depressed can trust a quiz to tell them that they are so depressed that they can’t live without “treatment?”

(Mental Illnesses: The Only ‘Diseases’ Spread Through Pop Quizzes)

Shari Lusskin M.D., who is a long-time member of the advisory board of Postpartum Support International (PSI) and a professor of “reproductive” psychiatry at NYU, discussed PTSD in new mothers for a recent Wall Street Journal article written by Rachel Zimmerman. The article promoted diagnoses of mental illness for women who go through traumatic childbirth, as well as prevention of “PTSD” via the use of drugs like Zoloft during pregnancy. With this new push to redefine aftershock from trauma as a disease, any woman having an emergency c-section, or any woman whose baby has a life-threatening complication, or any woman whose baby’s heart rate drops during labor, or any woman giving birth to a dead baby could be classified as mentally ill rather than deemed to be reacting normally to an emergency surgery or the death or threat of death to her own baby.

In this Wall Street Journal PTSD article Lusskin said that mothers who experience traumatic births should not jump to the conclusion that they will get PTSD. This statement is highly ironic considering her employment as a speaker for Wyeth, AstraZeneca, Pfizer, and GlaxoSmithKline. In a separate presentation made to mental health “professionals” Lusskin promoted a range of psychotropic medications and even electroshock for use by pregnant and nursing mothers.

In the same article, Susan Stone, the immediate past president of PSI, discussed The MOTHERS Act, stating that “the law’s intent is to provide ‘effective’ care, whether it’s talk therapy, medications or some combination, to suffering mothers.”

I find this article absurd considering that with the push to prevent depression and PTSD by drugging women before they give birth, more babies will die or be born with life-threatening complications. More babies will suffer drops in heart rate as the drugs given to their mothers for labor interact with those given to them for depression or prevention of PTSD, causing more traumatic emergency c-sections and stillbirths. And more women who lose their babies as a result of preemptive drugging will become severely depressed and doctors will try to drug away their grief. So much for treating or preventing PTSD.

Considering the fact that PSI recently sponsored an event to push drugs on anxious women called “Beyond The Blues,” cosponsored by AstraZeneca, it is more apparent why The MOTHERS Act mentions medications and biological agents and not simply antidepressants. Because we wouldn’t want to rule out the government-sponsored drugging of women with drugs given for anxiety and panic attacks. 

Zimmerman’s timing in publishing this PTSD promo article is impeccable. The PTSD marketing all ties in quite neatly with the next big epidemic. Perhaps if antidepressants cannot be shown to help depression, drug companies can resort to marketing them for numbing the effects of PTSD, as the patients taking them become psychotic and no longer show any remorse, regret, or fear. In fact, the Pentagon just launched a $300 million project to study PTSD in the military. I can think of many ways that money could be better spent for our military than by administering drugs and waiting to see their effects. Yet many people want to do the same thing for all the nation’s mothers.

Julie Edgington, whose son Manie was born with Paxil-caused Transposition of the Great Arteries, wrote to Rachel Zimmerman of the Wall Street Journal in protest of the “perinatal PTSD” article. “My mission has become very difficult especially when reporters want to demean what has happened to my son by singing the praises of antidepressant use to help with postpartum depression. The MOTHERS Act is set up to screen women even during pregnancy for depression and the only listed treatment is biochemical. What does this mean? It means this world better get ready for many many more babies to be born like my son if this act is passed. Paxil is now a Class D drug yet GSK continues to tell women to take the drug if the benefits outweigh the risk. When the risk is serious and deadly birth defects why would they tell women to take this drug? The same reason they want to pass the MOTHERS Act. The same reason why they said nothing when they knew years before I became pregnant with my son that their drug caused heart defects. They are not scared to get away with murder.”

No amount of settlement money from GlaxoSmithKline, no apology, no ban on drugs and no prison terms for pharmaceutical employees could take away Manie’s heart defect, resurrect all the stillborn and miscarried babies who died because of psychotropic drugs, or turn back the clocks and hold Melanie Stokes back from the ledge of her twelfth-story hotel window. Nothing that anyone does could remove my memory of being homicidal toward my son and my family. But we must continue to hold accountable all those who find preventable deaths and ruined lives to be nothing worth worrying about.

Over the past several months I have been confronted numerous times by drug apologists slamming me for my opposition to The MOTHERS Act. In my replies I have used my story, the FDA suicide and birth defect warnings, the irony of the way this bill dishonors Melanie Stokes, and numerous other facts including studies documenting no benefit for antidepressants, only tremendous harm. On more than one occasion top members of PSI including Susan Stone and Birdie Meyer, the current President, persisted with claims that antidepressants are generally safe and effective. Stone also wrote that in many cases of claimed adverse effects such as a drug-induced suicide or murder, it was the “underlying disease” and not the drug that caused the tragedy, although she said that there may be a “small number” of people experiencing adverse events from the drugs.

Apparently the track record of this organization is not very good, considering that several of the people who contacted me admit to numerous cases of the women they worked with ultimately committing suicide or killing their children. Yet Stone refers to The MOTHERS Act as a “no brainer.” Clearly the only way that this bill could end anyone’s suffering would be via permanent relief for the depressed mother in the form of suicide or lethal injection in prison.

Given that PSI operates internationally, perhaps they would have noticed that many countries do not drug quite as many of their mothers as the U.S. does, and these countries have better outcomes. Unlike the U.S.A., the U.K. has actually banned the sale of antidepressants for children and teens due to the suicide risk. But in the U.S. PSI finds it acceptable to drug America’s unborn and newborn babies through their mothers’ bodies. 

Would this madness be tolerated in any normal society? Will the U.S. professionals’ affinity for drug-murder of families spread around the world like an infectious disease? In Sweden, where minimal monitoring of suicide victims’ health histories is conducted, 86% of all suicides have been committed by people taking psychotropic medications. 77% of these cases involved antidepressants and neuroleptics. Most patients were taking multiple medications at the time of death, due to the common practice of “treating” the dangerous effects of drugs by adding more.

I suppose it would be fitting if The MOTHERS Act could be totally rewritten and really would put a stop to the mistreatment of new mothers in a way that would honor the untimely drug and electroshock-induced death of Melanie Stokes. But instead, it will only perpetuate psychiatry’s death grip, expanding the magnitude of the drug-net by adding the force of a federal mandate to the industry’s current efforts to “screen” women for mental disorders – all without offering informed consent or alternatives to drugs. When the Seventeen Magazine-style pop psychology quizzes inevitably tell hormonal women that their feelings are signs of mental illness, are we supposed to believe that doctors will not prescribe drugs? Will the federal government engage in any sort of monitoring to determine how ineffective and deadly the program is and compare the percentage of women killing their children in the next five years to the previous five? Will black box warnings be given to women, or will doctors hand out samples after removing the drug labels as was done to me? And will Bernard Sanders and all of the people voting for this bill take responsibility for these deaths, this violence against our most vulnerable citizens, which risks the life of every new baby born in our country? 

Clearly the U.S. has already fallen below anyone’s lowest expectations for how severely our government has betrayed its own people and offered them up as human sacrifice for the sake of greed, yet we are facing the possibility of the passage of The MOTHERS Act, among other nightmare legislation, with the consequence of even more intrusion, suffering, and death.

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