Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler and her husband, Daniel, termed “miraculous” the birth of their daughter, Abigail, several weeks ago. They had chosen to continue the pregnancy after receiving the diagnosis of Potter’s syndrome which is essentially the failure of the baby’s kidneys to form.
I am not a fan of Rep. Herrera Beutler’s politics, but I was saddened by the news of the baby’s condition and what it would mean to her family. I also viewed the situation as an incredible opportunity for this congresswoman to experience firsthand the agony of a family faced with the heartbreaking choices involved in managing such a pregnancy.
Could she imagine the pain and suffering of the mother who chooses to terminate after 20 weeks so she doesn’t have to anticipate the horrible day when she holds her newborn in her arms and watches it die? What would she say to well-meaning people who ask about the baby and are unaware of the terminal diagnosis? The Beutlers, citing their pro-life beliefs, determined the only course was to proceed with the pregnancy.
I suppose that is an advantage of being bound by ideology; all of the hard decisions have already been made for you.
Ironically, Rep. Herrera Beutler voted just a year ago to prohibit other women the means to even consider making such a choice, supporting a bill that restricted abortion in the District of Columbia to women past the 20th week of pregnancy; the Beutler’s received news of their child’s condition at the 20th week. There was no exception in the bill for fetal anomalies.
One could applaud Rep. Herrera Beutler for acting in accordance with her beliefs. I don’t object to the choice she made, and I am happy for the survival of their daughter and wish them success with the multiple challenges that lie ahead. I do object to her lack of insight into the lives of other women and her failure to allow other women to make their own reproductive decisions.
The “miracle” baby benefitted from top-notch medical care provided at the best facilities in the country. Rep. Herrera Beutler was able to be cared for at Johns Hopkins and to arrange care for her infant at Stanford. How many women have insurance that would cover these choices? How many women have the assets to travel to distant medical facilities, obtain housing in the area, and afford the time off work while their infant is receiving intensive care?
Thanks to the Democrats, women now have the Family Medical Leave Act which allows them and their husbands to take time from work for such issues. However, the time off is without pay, and there is no guarantee that you will be entitled to the same job upon your return. Rep. Herrera Beutler doesn’t have these worries; her pay will continue, and her job will still be there when she is able to resume it.
Rep. Herrera Beutler voted against the Affordable Care Act that will allow uninsured citizens to purchase insurance on a competitive exchange. Members of Congress have multiple choices for health insurance and pay approximately one-fourth of the premium cost, the remainder paid by taxpayers.
If Rep. Herrera Beutler had my family’s plan, she would have to cover the first $9,000 of her bills before the insurance covered more than 80 percent. If she had chosen to become pregnant prior to 2009, her insurance would likely have maxed out at $1 million, and she and her spouse would be liable for any costs above that cap. Since Abigail will require ongoing dialysis and future kidney transplantation, as well as the normal care of a pre-term infant with low birth weight and other complicating factors, I imagine she will incur the first million in her first year of life.
Thanks to Obamacare, which Rep. Herrera Beutler voted against and has since voted many, many times to repeal, she does not have to worry about that lifetime cap. She doesn’t have to worry that Abigail will be rejected by insurance companies for having a pre-existing condition, nor that she will be without insurance when she finishes her education. She doesn’t have to worry that an employer will reject Abigail because her medical coverage would significantly impact the bottom line.
I do not wish any ill to Rep. Herrera Beutler or her family. I wish that she could acknowledge that her situation would be much different if she were not a privileged member of society. I wish that she would concede that few women would be able to make the choice she made. I wish that she would consider the plight of other families when she votes against “costly” measures such as the Affordable Care Act or funding for Planned Parenthood. I wish she would consider that God’s answer to her prayers may have been a way of teaching her something about humility, to examine her position of privilege and wonder how other families manage to cope without the extensive support network that she enjoys?
I hope that Abigail’s robust health and future promise serve as a daily reminder to Rep. Herrera Beutler of the challenges faced by those without privilege, the everyday people whom she represents in Congress.
Rosemarie Treece is a Camas resident.