Public Laws | Pending Legislation
Post-Abortion Depression Research and Care Act
According to the Findings section of H.R. 4543, an abortion “. . . can have severe and long-term effects on the mental and emotional well-being of women. Women often experience sadness and guilt following abortions with no one to console them. They may have difficulty in bonding with new babies, become overprotective parents or develop problems in their relationship with their spouses. Problems such as eating disorders, depression and suicide attempts have also been traced to past abortions.”
Research findings have consistently demonstrated that there is a relationship between an individual’s history of depression and the risk for recurrent depression following major life events, including pregnancy or pregnancy termination. For example, a study funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) found that most women do not experience psychological problems 2 years after an abortion; however, those who did tended to be women with a prior history of depression.
Provisions of the Legislation/Impact on NIH
Title I of H.R. 4543 would have amended the Public Health Service Act to authorize the Secretary of Health and Human Services, acting through the Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Director of NIMH, to expand and intensify research and related activities of NIMH with respect to post-abortion depression and post-abortion psychosis. Activities would have been coordinated with other NIH entities to the extent that such Institutes and agencies have responsibilities that are related to post-abortion conditions. Activities would have included conducting and supporting the following:
- BasicBasic research concerning the etiology and causes of the conditions
- Epidemiological studies to address the frequency and natural history of the conditions and differences among racial and ethnic groups with respect to those conditions
- The development of improved diagnostic techniques
- Clinical research for the development and evaluation of new treatments, including new biological agents
- Information and education programs for health care professionals and the public
The bill would have also required NIMH to conduct a national longitudinal study to determine the incidence and prevalence of cases of post-abortion conditions and the symptoms, severity, and duration of such cases, with the goal of more fully identifying the characteristics of those cases and developing diagnostic techniques.
Title II of H.R. 4543 would have called for the Secretary to provide grants “for projects for the establishment, operation, and coordination of effective and cost-efficient systems for the delivery of essential services to individuals with post-abortion depression or post-abortion psychosis (referred to in this section as a post-abortion condition) and their families.”
Status and Outlook
H.R. 4543 was introduced by Representative Joseph R. Pitts (R-PA) on June 9, 2004, and was referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. No further action occurred on this legislation during the 108th Congress.