Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) spoke at the Americans United for Life Women Speak summit Wednesday about how she felt compelled to share the story of her son to combat leftist narratives about abortion being the best option for unborn Down syndrome babies. She also encouraged the pro-life women in the audience to tell their own stories, arguing that these stories had the power “to make change so that we become a culture that values life.”
McMorris Rodgers shared how she unexpectedly had to speak out for her son Cole and children like him after a Washington Post op-ed writer, Ruth Marcus, argued that women need the right to kill unborn babies with Down syndrome.
Marcus wrote of Down syndrome diagnoses, “I would’ve terminated those pregnancies had the testing come back positive. I would’ve grieved the loss and moved on.”
“I was shocked and offended and so I shared my story,” McMorris Rodgers said of the op-ed. “I’m a pro-life mom of three. I see huge potential in all of my kids, Cole, Grace and Brynn. Cole’s my oldest and he was born with that extra 21st chromosome.”
“When my husband and I received the news that he had Down syndrome, it wasn’t what we expected,” she acknowledged, “it was tough news to hear and we were given a long list of challenges and chances of heartache. Well, today Cole is living a life full of huge potential. He is in fifth grade, he loves to learn, he loves basketball, he’s a great big brother.”
“My message to Ruth was this: just because something is hard doesn’t mean that it’s not positive,” she emphasized.
McMorris Rodgers said that her son Cole “made me a better legislator and he’s given me a whole new purpose and passion to be an ability advocate.”
“I am empowered because of Cole and my two daughters too, I believe that stories like mine that will pave the way for us to overturn Roe v. Wade,” she said.
McMorris Rodgers acknowledged that these stories are not the easiest to share and are met with divisive rhetoric.
“I remember the Doritos commercial that pro-abortion groups called ‘controversial’ because it featured an animated baby on an ultrasound machine,” she said. “A provision in the tax reform bill would have allowed parents to open a college savings account for their unborn children, it was called ‘dangerous’ and because we’re pro-life many are quick to call us anti-woman.”
She accused the Left of creating an "us versus them mentality."
"They focus on reproductive rights and women’s status as victims almost solely and they send a message that women’s opportunities are tied directly to their option to have an abortion," she said. "The Left’s version of the women’s movement does an injustice to women."
In contrast, McMorris Rodgers said pro-life women "believe in the dignity of every person. We see abilities, not disabilities. We focus on their potential, not victimhood. We see a future full of choices and opportunities waiting to be seized."
She argued that it is so important for women to share their stories in order to combat the Left's rhetoric.
“The stories that you share have the power to make change so that we become a culture that values life,” she said. “The shortest distance between two people is their story.”