WASHINGTON, D.C., January 29, 2014 ( – A pro-life congresswoman said that her Down syndrome child was “a gift from God” who not only showed her the possibilities of human life, but embodies the possibilities open to every American.

House Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington mentioned her son in last night's Republican response to the State of the Union Address.

“Three days after we gave birth to our son, Cole, we got news no parent expects: Cole was diagnosed with Down syndrome,” she said. “The doctors told us he could have endless complications, heart defects, even early Alzheimer’s.”

“They told us all the problems,” she said. “But when we looked at our son, we saw only possibilities.”


“We saw a gift from God,” added Rodgers, who is a member of the Congressional Down Syndrome Caucus.

Today, Rodgers said, six-year-old Cole “dances to Bruce Springsteen,” “reads above grade level,” and “is the best big brother in the world.”

Rodgers said Cole and his sisters, Grace and Brynn, “have only made me more determined to see the potential in every human life.”

Far from a burden or a punishment who should be aborted, Rodgers implied that Cole speaks to the very heart of the American dream.

“Whether we are born with an extra 21st chromosome or without a dollar to our name, we are not defined by our limits but by our potential,” she said. “Our mission – not only as Republicans, but as Americans, is to once again ensure that we are not bound by where we come from, but empowered by what we can become.”

She concluded with a prayer for “the American family,” that “with the guidance of God, we may prove worthy of His blessings of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Her personal history, from growing up on a farm in Washington State to living in what she calls “the other Washington,” highlights the possibilities that lay before all human life, possibilities often denied by an abortion rate that nears 100 percent.

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A number of studies have found about 90 percent of children diagnosed with Down syndrome in the womb are aborted. However, another survey found 99 percent of Americans with Down syndrome said they are happy with their lives. For instance, in 2011, a young Down syndrome woman named Maisie was elected prom queen at Fair Grove High School in Missouri.

Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser praised Rogers on the eve of the speech, calling her “a leader among a growing group of accomplished pro-life women in Congress.”

Dannenfelser said that Rodgers understands “that protecting the lives they carry and strengthening women in leadership are not only compatible choices, but complementary and essential roles.”