Katherine L. Wisner, MD, MS, a long time OTIS member and perinatal psychiatrist, recently co-authored an op-ed in support of a new Illinois law set to take effect this summer that will address the legal liability women have when they commit criminal acts while suffering from severe postpartum mental illness. The op-ed was published in The Hill and can be read here.
The new law, a first of its kind, will highlight postpartum mental illness as a factor for judges to consider when determining an appropriate punishment for a crime. It will also allow women who were convicted of a felony, but did not have evidence of postpartum mental illness presented at their trial or sentencing, apply to reduce their sentence post-conviction. Because mood disorders, particularly depression, are common complications of childbearing, this law will focus on treatment rather than punishment for women convicted of a crime while suffering from the devastating effects of postpartum mental illness.