Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the representative from the 5th district of Washington state (making up most of the eastern part of the state) has announced that her new baby has Down syndrome. Other than an intestinal blockage which has been surgically corrected, her new son, Cole, is healthy.
More below the fold including my reaction as the father of a child with Down syndrome...
In a letter released through her office, she wrote:
This news has been difficult to get our arms around, like every parent, we have hopes and dreams for our children. Although initially stunned, we are embracing our son and preparing for what may lay ahead.
Because of her age, 37, McMorris Rodgers was offered the opportunity to test for Down syndrome but she and her husband chose not to. McMorris Rodgers is the first representative to give birth in over 10 years.
That's the end of the news portion...
Cathy McMorris Rodgers is an avowed Regan Republican. She now has a child who is going to need the kind of support normally associated with the liberal side of the aisle. As her child grows up, he will be able to take advantage of laws like the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Attempts have been made by the Bush administration to weaken both of these laws. Will McMorris Rogers become a point person to promote laws that help the disabled? Will she fight further erosion of IDEA and ADA and instead support stronger laws?
If so (and I am hoping that it will be so that we can have a voice on the right side), this will be a radical change for her. She has not co-sponsored any recent law to help the disabled and has voted the Republican party position most of the time. If she does change her views, there might be a temptation to call her a hypocrite. But this would not be fair. People change because of things that happen to them personally and having a child with a disability may make McMorris Rogers realize how these laws help make the lives of the disabled better. McMorris Rogers says that she will be back to work part time this month and it will be interesting to see if she is ready to be an advocate for her son and his future.