Repub­li­cans are pro-life? Let them prove it

Pawtucket Times - - OPINION - By EMILY BARBERO Barbero lives in Min­neapo­lis.

In 2012, while ex­pect­ing our first (and only) child, my hus­band and I went in for a rou­tine ul­tra­sound. The tech­ni­cian saw some­thing and alerted the res­i­dent peri­na­tol­o­gist, who alerted the ge­net­ics team. We quickly wiped the gel from my belly, and they es­corted us down the hall. In the rush, the black-and-white pho­tos of our baby were left on the printer. Some­one prob­a­bly threw them away long ago.

Af­ter re­view­ing our file, the ge­net­ics coun­selor ex­plained to us that they couldn't quite know what was wrong for sure with­out fur­ther test­ing, but that our son's brain showed clear anatom­i­cal is­sues. She said that some chil­dren with our son's con­di­tion never walk or talk. They some­times have cog­ni­tive, so­cial and emo­tional de­lays. Their qual­ity of life can suf­fer, and they can be a con­sid­er­able drain on the emo­tional and fi­nan­cial health of fam­i­lies.

She hes­i­tated, but then posed the ques­tion: Did we want to keep our baby?

My hus­band and I sim­ply had to glance at each other. We each knew what the other was think­ing. We weren't go­ing to ter­mi­nate.

We didn't say yes to our son be­cause any po­lit­i­cal party said that it was the de­ci­sion that dif­fer­en­ti­ates those with good morals from those with bad ones. We made our de­ci­sion hold­ing hands, with a prayer on our lips, oceans of love in our hearts, a spark of hope and a lot of naivete. It was our per­sonal de­ci­sion to make, not any sort of po­lit­i­cal or re­li­gious agenda to be had. Our son turns 4 this month. He has de­vel­op­men­tal de­lays and a com­plex health his­tory, but he is happy and thriv­ing. He is also a true suc­cess story for early-in­ter­ven­tion ser­vices. With­out his weekly oc­cu­pa­tional, phys­i­cal and lan­guage ap­point­ments, with­out his sur­geons, gas­troen­terol­o­gists, de­vel­op­men­tal spe­cial­ists and neu­rol­o­gists, he would not be where he is to­day.

But what about to­mor­row? Cur­rently, be­cause of the Af­ford­able Care Act, in­sur­ers can­not dis­crim­i­nate against peo­ple with pre­ex­ist­ing con­di­tions. They can't deny cov­er­age, they can't limit cov­er­age, and they can't charge ex­or­bi­tant premiums to those with sig­nif­i­cant health prob­lems.

So right now, my son's in­sur­ance cov­er­age is se­cure. But in their drive to re­peal the ACA, Repub­li­cans in Congress are con­jur­ing up a dif­fer­ent world — one where one lit­tle gap, like the job my hus­band lost sev­eral years ago, can re­sult in bank­ruptcy and in the rapid de­cline of health in a loved one, even death.

The Repub­li­can Party prides it­self on be­ing a pro-life party and has de­liv­ered a pro-life pres­i­dent into of­fice. Dur­ing cam­paign sea­son, we heard mes­sag­ing about the value of life and our col­lec­tive re­spon­si­bil­ity to pro­tect it. The GOP wants ev­ery­one to know that no mat­ter what the ul­tra­sound says, they should choose life.

We did. And now, sleep­ing in our house tonight is a beau­ti­ful boy with dim­ples, a boy who loves Lego Nin­jago and Bat­man, a boy who thinks tack­ling snow­men is hi­lar­i­ous. Just this month, he showed us he can hit a base­ball off a tee.

He also hap­pens to be a boy with a pre­ex­ist­ing con­di­tion and six-inch-thick med­i­cal file.

Has our lan­guage be­come empty? Sud­denly, Repub­li­can mem­bers of Congress no longer seem to view him as so pre­cious and beau­ti­ful. Now he's ex­pen­sive, and a risk, and a li­a­bil­ity. The ar­gu­ment that his life should be sup­ported and pro­tected at all costs has fallen eerily silent. The new ar­gu­ment is over which of the ACA's pro­tec­tions should be pre­served, if any, and to what ex­tent, and whether the law should be done away with even be­fore a re­place­ment is worked out.

We gave my son life, de­spite the warn­ings, and now he needs care. There are mil­lions like him. But the Repub­li­cans in Congress look the other way.

So who is the real pro-life sup­porter among us?

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