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Codey Questions Whether Law To Protect New Mothers Was Working In Case Of Essex County Murder-Suicide

Calls on Prosecutor to Investigate whether Corrections Officer Was Screened for Postpartum

TRENTON – Senate President Richard J. Codey (D-Essex) today asked Essex County Prosecutor Paula Dow to investigate whether the Essex County corrections officer who shot and killed herself and her four-month old baby on Monday was screened, as required by law, for postpartum depression (PPD). Codey, the sponsor of a 2006 law that requires all new mothers to be screened for PPD, today reached out to Dow, who has agreed to look into the matter.

“There is a genuine suspicion that postpartum depression may have played a large factor in this incident,” said Sen. Codey. “Here you have a generally well-regarded law enforcement officer who suddenly, and tragically, does something so uncharacteristic not long after giving birth. It certainly begs the question, was she screened for postpartum depression as required by New Jersey law?”

Under the 2006 law Codey sponsored, health professionals providing postnatal care are required to screen new mothers for PPD symptoms prior to discharge and at the first few postnatal check-up visits. The law also require physicians, nurse midwives and other licensed health care professionals, who provide prenatal care, to provide education to women and their families about PPD in order to lower the likelihood that new mothers will continue to suffer from the illness in silence.

“This is a tragic incident, that for all we know, could have been avoided if the safety net we created had been used. My heart goes out to the family. If Officer McKenith has fallen through the cracks in our screening system, I hope we can learn from this incident to avoid a similar tragedy in the future.”

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