Yesterday was a punch in the gut.
I want to write happy.
You have no idea how badly I want to write happy.
But right now I'm afraid.
As the mother of a child with rather intensive special needs I'm actually terrified.
I've been told I shouldn't be. I was told after the election that there was nothing to worry about. That my fears were baseless. The conservatives love life and wouldn't hurt the disabled.
People said I was liberal.
As in "look at these stupid liberals who get all their news from MSNBC and wouldn't know the truth if it hit them upside the head."
Which made me laugh. Sadly.
I had actually voted a straight Republican ticket for years. I was on the board of our Republican Women's group in the county I lived in before we moved out of California. I've posed for pictures with Republican congressmen. I've been vocal about being against abortion. And MSNBC? I don't think I've watched that in over a decade. We don't actually have cable.
When Tessie was in the hospital I found that CSPAN was the only channel I could stomach, and then only barely.
I watched as the future Secretary of Education said that she thought that choosing to educate children with special needs should be left to the states. When she was corrected and told that it was a federal law that made sure these kids aren't locked out of schools like they were in the past she said she must have been confused.
Our future attorney general has referred to children with disabilities as the greatest annoyance teachers face.
And yesterday we learned that there is a planned trillion dollars in cuts to Medicaid in the next ten years. Block grants, that is to say limited amounts of money, will be provided for people with disabilities.
This is expected to be devastating to those with disabilities.
Kids like Maggie.
Kids who have preexisting conditions, will no longer be protected under the law. Kids who used to go to institutions but who now are in regular classrooms interacting with peers and learning life skills will lose the protections that make that possible.
Since having a child with a disability I can tell you that there is one thing that has stood out to me over these last years. People are often afraid of people with disabilities. People get uncomfortable around them. Many don't want to see or hear those who are differently abled.
I think a large part of that is because in the past these kids were locked away and not seen by previous generations. I absolutely believe that the benefit of having them in the classroom is enormous. It teaches compassion and wipes away fear of the unknown. And I think it's one of the prolife things that we can do.
Knowing other human beings that are differently abled takes away that anxiety I so often see when people hear Maggie's speech and joyful squeals and realize she's different.
People who know her, or who've even just read about her, begin to see a person not a stereotype.
People who know Maggie, when they hear the word autism, can think of her awesome sense of humor and amazing smile. It's not just the terrifying diagnosis that some people believe is a fate worse than death (it's not).
A lot of my prolife friends have pointed out that many of the people I was marching with this last week are okay with killing babies in utero that have disabilities. And obviously I disagree with that. I've spoken out against abortion many times and for anyone who wonders I'll say it now: Abortion is wrong. Always. I am absolutely against it.
But if you want to stop babies with disabilities from being aborted, stripping them of their healthcare and their chance to go to school, is not the way to do it.
Early intervention services are key to helping kids with disabilities before the gap between their development and their peers development becomes too large to be overcome. These have been slashed, and my heart has ached to see that it is nearly always done by conservatives.
And now this attack on education and disability benefits?
If those disappear let me tell you, parents of babies with disabilities aren't going to be falling all over themselves to have them. And those that do? They won't have a future to offer these children.
It isn't realistic, someone told me a few weeks ago. Helping all these kids. Letting them all go to therapy and school. There are too many of them and it costs too much.
I'm not sure I've ever heard a less prolife argument in my entire life come from the mouth of someone who claims to be for life. We can't tell women to have babies, all the babies but then tell them that those children are just too much when they get here.
I never believed it when I heard pro-abortion people say that prolifers only care about babies when they're in the womb. I've known personally too many people who embodied the opposite sort of generosity to believe it. But I have seen it creep into the reality that I'm facing in the near future, here and there, and I have to say, I am terrified.
I'm sure someone will tell me not to worry. That whatever is coming will be better. And I sure hope you're right. Because the safety net has been cut down and striped away and we're about to be shoved over the edge as those therapies and education options are hacked out of existence (after all they can't exist if they aren't being paid for and with preexisting conditions back these kids aren't going to qualify for insurance).
Maybe some people will feel better if these kids are shoved away. It's easier not to see these differences. I know I have friends who wish I would stop talking about it. I feel it keenly when close friends like every cute baby picture but are conspicuously silent every time I post about our worries for the future, or worse, tell me I have nothing to worry about.
Silly me. Worried that the promises that have been made might come to fruition.
Because it's out of sight is out of mind. At least if you don't love someone who has faced these challenges.
But I have a prayer. I know many of you. You're brave. And maybe you voted for President Trump. Maybe you're thrilled with him. Praise him for the good he does. I'll be right there beside you. Pray that he is the president this country needs. I know I will be on my own knees
But if you see this, these safety nets being cut that hold the hopes of our kids who need extra help please, please, don't stay silent. You can like him and support him and still ask him, and your representatives to protect the most vulnerable of our population who are outside the womb.
No one else is going to if we don't. So please I beg of you don't stay silent if you see the small gains of the last decades stripped away.
You don't have to chose between babies or kids with disabilities. This isn't saving one or the other. You can do both. But you need to speak out to protect them all. Advocating for kids with disabilities and babies in the womb aren't mutually exclusive. In fact, they should go hand in hand.
I want to write happy. And I will.
I am resolving to start sharing the glimpses of life that I've loved to share with you in the past, the happy moments that are here each and every day, even when the worries of an uncertain future weigh upon me. But I will also be writing about the difficulties that families who love people with disabilities are going to be facing in the near future if we really end up plunging off this cliff.
And I hope that you'll be beside me in this, speaking out for the voiceless both inside and outside the womb.