I’m doing something a little bit different today to call attention to a bill up for consideration in Massachusetts called “The New Moms and Infants Well-Being Act.”
This bill ensures that women who face criminal charges as a result of actions they took while experiencing postpartum psychosis (and/or postpartum depression) receive evaluation and treatment from specialists, a conditional release program, and relief from judgment/post-conviction clauses for mothers who are currently incarcerated.
In other words, this bill provides humane treatment of women going through absolute hell multiple times over.
To come out of psychosis and realize that you’ve done harm to another person, possibly even your own child, must be an absolute nightmare.
To deny adequate treatment for these women while treating them as though they knowingly committed these acts is just cruel.
Growing up, “temporary insanity” was thrown around as a joke excuse you might use to get away with committing a crime.
Now that I have experienced temporary insanity, I know that it is not a joke, nor is it an excuse. It is a terrifying reality for many women, and it is sheer luck of the draw that determines whether your delusions are harmless or result in criminal actions.
The delusions of some women experiencing psychosis actually cause them to think that their violent actions are protecting their children. This is unspeakably tragic, but the focus should be on prevention through early detection and treatment, not through indiscriminate punishment of women who had no control over their actions.
Protections like those outlined in this bill can make women feel less afraid of seeking out help when they do experience psychosis, instead of staying quiet because they’re terrified that they’ll go to jail or their baby will be taken away.
Our criminal justice system is riddled with problems, particularly surrounding mental health, and this isn’t the only change we should be advocating for. But it’s one that could make a real difference for many women, some of whom I have gotten the chance to know over the past year.
This would be only the second state that has passed such legislation, and would hopefully pave the way for other states to do so.
If you are a Massachusetts resident, please call your legislator and say that this bill (H 1828; S1085) is important to you, list why it’s important, and say, “I’m a constituent and I would like you to support or co-sponsor this bill.
If you have friends or family in Massachusetts, please spread the word.