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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.

Originally posted to Tom Paul on Fri Jun 01, 2007 at 08:11 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Just one quibble (4+ / 0-)

    You said:

    She now has a child who is going to need the kind of support normally associated with the liberal side of the aisle.

    Democrats may have more of a history of PROVIDING funding for the support of people with disabilities, but I've never heard of someone turning down such support on the basis of their Republican beliefs. Have you? This is like the abortion issue; if you're a Republican, you can feel free to oppose abortion until you need one, and then you have one quietly.

    Success is the child of audacity. --Disraeli

    by ChuyHChrist on Fri Jun 01, 2007 at 08:00:44 AM PDT

    •  I understood him fine (11+ / 0-)

      and, btw, Tom, where's your tip jar?  There was a similar "road to Damascus" moment in the Illinois legislature a couple of years ago when Rep. Tom Cross, the Republican leader, learned that stem cell research might benefit his daughter who was born with juvenile diabetes.

      Let's hope that Ms. Rodgers' eyes will be now be opened to a field  of vision which includes more than her own family.  Indeed, as a Reaganite, she can take her cue from Nancy Reagan, who now realizes that Alzheimer's research, including stem cell research, is a good thing and should be supported by government, not attacked as if those who needed it were parasites and not fellow travelers.

      If you think you're too small to be effective, you've never been in the dark with a mosquito.

      by marykk on Fri Jun 01, 2007 at 08:07:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  she's lucky she doesn't live in California (6+ / 0-)

      Schwarzenegger has targeted budget cuts against the blind, the disabled, children with autism, etc.

      If you live in Los Angeles and send your special needs kids to public school, you learned a few months ago that one-on-one school aides are no longer permitted to speak to parents about what happened to their children that day. The reason? Los Angeles schools want to make aides interchangeable -- a lunch aide, after all, should be able to take care of a child with autism he or she has never met before, and parents shouldn't be allowed to know about it.

      If you have a child with a life-threatening issue, such as a cortisol deficiency, you might find a one-on-one who has never met your child making a life-or-death emergency decision — and you may never find out about it.

    •  Poor wording? (6+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      micha1976, jj32, xndem, Fabian, rofodem, Ellicatt

      By "associated with" I meant that the liberal side of the aisle is more likely to sponsor legislation to provide these supports.  But I didn't want to say that because some Republicans have supported the disabled.  It was the father of the "worst president in history" who signed ADA into law.

  •  They are lucky so far. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jj32, goodasgold, marykk, Hens Teeth

    25% of Down syndrome babies have heart defects requiring surgical correction.

    Hope their health insurance is good!

    •  if she's a member (5+ / 0-)

      of Congress, she has no health insurance worries.

      Unlike most of the rest of us.

    •  Not to mention .... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Fabian

      the more rare problem with Downs kids, early strokes associated with abnormalities of the blood vessels in the brain.

      I have a downs daughter who did have such a stroke at age 14.  Another could occur at most any time, she is doing the best she can with rehab, and will never be completely independent or even able to function in a group home.  She does not reside with me, but with her mom, stepfather and other siblings.

      Even with all that, if faced with the situation again in the future, I know her mother would not elect to terminate, nor would I.  She is a happy adult who actually has her own view of reality and brings a lot of joy into the lives of those she touches.  She helped me to understand myself, because as you all know those good folks on the far right claim that "God doesn't make mistakes", they accept children like her being born, for some part of "God's plan" but not folks who happen to be different in other ways.

      There are challenges ahead for this family, but all families have their own types of challenges.

      This should be above political posturing and "point" making.

      I'm sick of America being covered by conservative crap

      by emsprater on Fri Jun 01, 2007 at 10:26:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  My point is that Downs (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        emsprater

        is a genetic disorder that can create number of problems in a Downs patient - much like cystic fibrosis.  And like cystic fibrosis, outside of genetic engineering it is incurable.

        My landlord had a Downs girl.  She had open heart surgery and was put on a respirator.  She was in ICU for two months trying to get her weaned off the respirator.  That's just one episode in her health care saga.  When I mentioned something about the cost to someone they asked "Well, they have health insurance, right?".  I replied "Nobody has that kind of health insurance.".  Two months in ICU at some outrageous amount per day, plus more time in another unit before discharge - even 10% of that would be a serious sum.

  •  The right thing for the wrong reason (8+ / 0-)

         It shouldn't have to take a family crisis for politicians to recognize problems.  

         For contrast, consider Barak Obama's speech to the 2004 Democratic convention, when he pointed out that a child who couldn't read didn't have to be his child.

  •  It saddens me that so many people (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    annrose, marykk, Hens Teeth

    can't see beyond their own concerns and needs.  I wish the Congresswoman and her baby well, and hopefully she will chose in the future to act from the heart and not from the pocketbook.  Doing the right thing really isn't so hard.

    •  Nice diary, but one quibble (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      nio, schumann, AmericanRiverCanyon, JFinNe

      If she does change her views, there might be a temptation to call her a hypocrite.  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.

      If this is the case, I think she will be a hypocrite.  I agree that people change because of circumstances, but there are some things any thinking person should know without personal knowledge/experience, IMO.  

      Arrogant lips are unsuited to a fool-- how much worse lying lips to a ruler - Proverbs 17:7

      by Barbara Morrill on Fri Jun 01, 2007 at 08:22:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  well (0+ / 0-)

    Will McMorris Rogers become a point person to promote laws that help the disabled?

    The answer depends on a few things. First, her ideological purity. If she's a serious die-hard RR, she would not promote the laws. It also ties in with the second item, money. If she has a ton of money (which is rare for a state rep, from my experience), she can oppose these laws and not worry about her child since she will always have the funds to do whatever is necessary.

  •  Interesting factor (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jj32, bablhous, Fabian

    The incoming British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, has a child with cystic fibrosis (he himself has only partial sight and only one eye as a result of a childhood accident)

    The Leader of the Opposition, David Cameron's eldest son has cerebal palsy and epilepsy and has to use a wheelchair.

    Both rely on the National Health Service for treatment and will benefit from special educational needs support.

    "That's an entirely valid point" - MBNYC

    by londonbear on Fri Jun 01, 2007 at 08:41:18 AM PDT

  •  Prenatal diagnosis (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Kaina PDX, Eddie Haskell

    of Down's syndrome has improved to the point that I think in 50 years Down's syndrome will be very rare.  I read that an amazing 93% of parents chose to terminate when they find out that their child has Down's syndrome.  

    For those of you not familiar with prenatal diagnosis, the first step is that all women are offered AFP testing, usually around 15 weeks of pregnancy.  If there is an abnormal result that suggests downs, the woman is offered enhanced ultrasound (there are maybe 15 "soft" markers for downs that can be detected by ultrasound).  Then of course the gold standard for diagnosis is amniocentesis.  The AFP test is a screening test which identifies which women need further testing.  In the old days, it was merely a question of maternal age and offering blindly an amnio.  The problem with that method is that most (in numbers ) downs babies are born to young women simply because they do the majority of the child-bearing, although the risk increases with maternal age.  AFP testing helps identify younger women at risk.

    "I can't believe men like you were once running a country." from "The Lives of Others"

    by Shappy on Fri Jun 01, 2007 at 09:12:09 AM PDT

    •  Scary... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cali Scribe

      Yes, eugenics is our future.  Down syndrome is just the first genetic condition that will be "cured" with more abortions.  As we get better at understanding the genetic code, we can look forward to a brave new world.

      •  Respectfully (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        oldpro, ChuyHChrist, lemming22

        I don't see it as a "brave new world."  Downs syndrome has so many implications-financial, social, emotional etc that are so profound for a family I believe that it's wonderful that a woman can have a choice in this matter.  

        I have four children that were all born healthy.  I personally know I could not handle a down's syndrome child and would have elected to terminate. I would not judge anyone for that.

        "I can't believe men like you were once running a country." from "The Lives of Others"

        by Shappy on Fri Jun 01, 2007 at 09:23:14 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I can respect your view (0+ / 0-)

          but at the same time it scares the hell out of me.

          I have been personally acquainted with two lovely women with Down's Syndrome; one was the youngest sister of my best friend through high school, the other a member of my current church. I learned first hand the challenges faced, especially by my friend's family; in the 1960's and 1970's, there were nowhere near the resources there are now. My friend actually got a special Confirmation class started at our church so that her sister and some of her friends could come and be part of the church. As for the other, she may take a little longer to do things, but I've never known a more dependable person; you ask her to do something and she'll plug along till it gets done. She's now living semi-independently (in a group setting, but away from family) and doing very well.

          Yes, there are probably plenty of women who would choose to terminate their pregnancy, and while I may not like their decision, I reluctantly support it as part of my pro-choice stand. But with the current state of corporate healthcare, how far are we from insurance companies encouraging doctors to "help their patients make the right choice"? That's what really scares the hell out of me.

          •  This is what I don't like about dkos (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Kaina PDX, chigh

            I can respect your view

            but at the same time it scares the hell out of me.

            I strongly support a woman's right to chose--for any reason!!  I don't care if she feels her fetus will be a bugger-picker or whatever I SUPPORT A WOMAN'S CHOICE-no stipulations, no judgements no whatever.

            From my personal situation, I suffered a post-partum depression so severe as to be considered a "nervous breakdown" and  I almost committed suicide.  I know what I can handle and I don't need to justify to anybody.  

            I am an OB nurse and I put my momey where my mouth is--I give my patients TLC (we don't do TABs) whatever their situation is - I love and support women, I don't judge them, end of discussion.

            "I can't believe men like you were once running a country." from "The Lives of Others"

            by Shappy on Fri Jun 01, 2007 at 10:46:45 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Yes, we must be respectful of the decisions... (0+ / 0-)

          that everyone makes in this difficult circumstances. Noone knows best except the people involved. That is the essence of choice. I support her decision and hope that her child has all the opportunities possible.

          •  All of this is really nice... (0+ / 0-)

            but when a "Gay gene" is found will you support a woman's right to abort because she doesn't want the difficulties associated with having a gay son?  I'm sorry but this is eugenics and doesn't end anywhere good.

  •  Family values. It will be interesting to watch (0+ / 0-)

    how Cathy McMorris' family values are applied in this case.  That child will need a lot of special attention.  Will she give up her political ambitions to stay home and take care of this 'special gift from God?'

    Tell me how you spend your time and how you spend your money -- I'll tell you what your values are.

    by oldpro on Fri Jun 01, 2007 at 09:29:48 AM PDT

    •  It's not as hard as you think (0+ / 0-)

      Plenty of women have a child with Down syndrome and continue their career.  Children with Down syndrome are in some ways harder to raise but in some ways they are easier.  Absent medical issues, with a good school district that abides by IDEA, it really isn't that hard.

      •  Yes, of course... (0+ / 0-)

        Plenty of women have a child with Down syndrome and continue their career.

        But that is not the Republican version of family values.  Ordinarily they criticize women for such 'choices,' even when they are single mothers with no choice of whether or not to work and support their children.  Cathy has a choice.  She will be gossiped about by the 'stay home and take care of your family' wingers and criticized for 'letting her personal amibitions outweigh her responsibilities' by some in her party.  It's a safe Republican House seat so her retirement would not hurt her party.

        It'll be interesting to watch and listen.  Hypocrisy wears a thousand faces and sometimes it comes home to roost.  This may be one of those times.

        Tell me how you spend your time and how you spend your money -- I'll tell you what your values are.

        by oldpro on Fri Jun 01, 2007 at 11:05:56 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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