The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health examined the impact of depression on women following pregnancy and abortion on September 29. This hearing was attended by Dr. Martin Waugh, a psychiatrist who is tracking this issue, and the Christian Seniors Association.
The hearing was held to debate passage of two bills on post-partum depression as it relates to abortion or pregnancies. One is H.R. 4543, the Post-Abortion Depression Research and Care Act; the other is H.R. 846, the Melanie Blocker- Stokes Postpartum Depression Research and Care Act.
Melanie Blocker-Stokes committed suicide not long after her child was born and her mother was at the hearing to support the legislation named in her daughters honor. Melanie jumped from a 12-story hotel room a few months after she gave birth.
Both bills will study depression in women. H.R. 4543 will study depression and psychosis that may occur after an abortion. And, H.R. 846 will study depression and psychosis after a woman gives birth.
One of the experts at the hearing was Dr. Elizabeth Shadigian, Clinical Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Michigan Medical School.
Dr. Shadigian testified: self-harm and psychiatric hospital admission because of suicide attempt is more common in women who terminate their pregnancies, while rates of suicide and suicide attempt are half or less for women with full term pregnancies compared to the general population.
She noted that a woman who aborts a child is twice as likely as other women to die from a homicide a year after the abortion and three to five times as likely to die from suicide.
She said that researchers should not be afraid to ask hard questions about the relationship among abortion, depression, and suicide.
A pro-abortion psychiatrist who testified said there is no scientific evidence to prove that post-abortion syndrome that can result in the suicide of the mother, but did acknowledge the reality of post-partum depression that can result in suicide. She expressed concern that current law does not take this into account when sentencing women who have become psychotic and kill their children. [TVC News, 30Sept04]