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Says PPFA President Cecile Richards: “We need to support women every step of their reproductive lives.”

Washington, DC — Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) today spoke out in favor of a bill to study postpartum depression, a devastating mood disorder that strikes millions of women before and after pregnancy. H.R. 20, the “Melanie Blocker-Stokes Postpartum Depression Care and Research Act,” was introduced by Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill); the bill is named for one of his former constituents who died by suicide after suffering from postpartum depression.

“We need to support women every step of their reproductive lives,” said PPFA President Cecile Richards. “As the nation’s leading reproductive and sexual health care provider and advocate, Planned Parenthood offers a range of health care services, from contraception to prenatal and postnatal care. This bill takes an important step toward ensuring that the millions of women suffering from postpartum depression get the care they need.” 

H.R. 20 would expand and intensify research on postpartum depression, which afflicts 10 to 20 percent of U.S. women within six months of giving birth. H.R. 20 would direct the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to conduct or support research to broaden the understanding of the causes of postpartum conditions and to develop improved diagnostic techniques, treatments, and information and education programs for health care providers and the public. This legislation also provides for grants to public and nonprofit private entities for the establishment, operation, and coordination of effective service delivery systems for women suffering from postpartum depression and psychosis. 

Standing today with Rep. Rush and mental health care advocates, PPFA Director of Government Relations Jacqueline Payne spoke in favor of the bill. “For many of our clients, Planned Parenthood is their only regular health care provider, their sole point of entry into the health care system,” said Payne. “We know firsthand how important it is for health care providers to have the information they need to be able to identify conditions like postpartum depression and the resources to address it.”

According to the National Mental Health Association, 70 to 80 percent of new mothers experience some form of a postpartum disorder immediately following the birth of their children. Of the women who experience postpartum depression this year, less than 15 percent are expected to receive treatment, although scientists argue that, with treatment, more than 90 percent of women could overcome their depression. 

Congress is expected to take up the bill later today.



Planned Parenthood Federation of America


Christy Setzer,  202-973-4975
Tait Sye, 202-973-4840


May 13, 2014