Please, stop Kavanaugh — my daughter's life is on the line

Please, stop Kavanaugh — my daughter's life is on the line
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Next week, our lawmakers are facing a choice: either reject Kavanaugh and defend the Affordable Care Act, or ignore the millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions — including my daughter — that they were elected to serve.

I learned the hard way that no family is immune being touched by disability and that there is no amount of planning that can guarantee a healthy baby or a life free of worry about good health.

When my daughter Claire was born 12 years ago, it was after years waiting and careful planning for everything to be just right.

Even though every prenatal test indicated that Claire would be healthy, it became clear the moment she was born that something wasn’t quite right: Before she was a week old, she had an MRI, a spinal tap, x-rays, ultrasounds and too many IVs to count, including a particularly bloody one inserted directly into her head.

Immediately, an unending series of diagnoses descended upon us. Claire had two holes in her heart which itself was in the wrong place, was missing the part of her brain that binds the two hemispheres together, had pulmonary hypertension and a host of other life-long issues. Later, as we learned more about Claire, autism, asthma, epilepsy, significant intellectual disability and others were added to the list.

And because Claire was born in 2006, before the Affordable Care Act was passed, her pre-existing conditions meant that, even as an infant, she could be denied health insurance.

And Claire is not alone. There are millions of children and families across the country who would face fear and uncertainty if Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed to the Supreme Court. And with Little Lobbyists, MomsRising and Health Care Voter, I am one of the many Americans across the country who are fighting for our right to access health care.

Before the Affordable Care Act, my daughter was a financial liability the moment she was born. I was consumed with worry about her health, but also about how we would pay for her significant needs, about how her life could be in the balance if my husband ever lost his job and the health insurance that came along with it.

It did not seem far-fetched to think Claire would reach her lifetime limit on care before she reached her first birthday. I considered divorcing my husband and selling our small condo so that Claire could qualify for Medicaid with me as a single, unemployed mother.

Fortunately, the Affordable Care Act was passed in time to save Claire’s life and Claire’s future seemed a little brighter. While she faced some insurmountable obstacles, those obstacles would not be because she could not access life-saving healthcare and life-altering therapies. Her future seemed a little brighter.

Today, Claire is a sweet girl who loves, cake, fashion magazines and laughing with her siblings. She is happy and healthy — but Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination threatens the life that we have built for her.

It seems that Brett Kavanaugh will not defend the Affordable Care Act, or the 130 million Americans with pre-existing conditions. There is no other way for me to interpret his statements other than to think that he is coming after my daughter and seeking to deprive her of access to the care that is keeping her alive.

In Kavanaugh’s opinion, daughter and other individuals with intellectual disabilities are so unworthy of dignity and respect that they lack even the ability give input into their own medical care.

Under Kavanaugh's belief system, because my child is female, she might be barred from making decisions about her own body."

And yet what frightens me most is that, if confirmed, Kavanaugh’s decisions could imperil health care and disability rights for generations..

My daughter’s life and dignity hang in the balance of a Kavanaugh nomination. While reasonable minds can and do, differ about how health care should be administered in the U.S., Kavanaugh is at odds with the majority of Americans in thinking that people like my daughter who have pre-existing conditions should not be entitled to the same access to life-saving care as everyone else.

It is not unreasonable to demand that those who sit on the Supreme Court have basic respect for my daughter’s need to have both health insurance and a life with dignity as an adult.

Claire deserves better than Kavanaugh.

Jamie Davis Smith is a D.C.-based attorney, mother and leading health care advocate with Little Lobbyists and Health Care Voter.