These days, the Left lectures America about the evils of tribalism and the imperative of diversity and inclusion. However, it often practices politics-as-theology, and shows little tolerance for those who don’t hold to progressive ideology. The Left can be especially cruel to conservative members of a minority group.
I have experienced this firsthand, beginning three years ago, when I lost my baby boy. He was stillborn. Until this heartbreaking tragedy, I had no idea that about 24,000 babies are stillborn in the United States every year. I didn’t want my baby to become just another sad statistic. So I researched what I could do to honor him and help others in my situation. An idea that caught my eye was a one-time child tax credit for families experiencing stillbirth.
From my own situation and from stories I heard from other families, I knew this idea made sense. Since stillbirth happens late in pregnancy, expecting parents have already incurred expenses to prepare for the arrival of their children. After they lose their children, they face funeral costs for the baby and fees for counseling services. All these expenses quickly add up. These parents are often traumatized all over again when they file their state tax returns. Any baby who is born and lives, even for a minute, qualifies for the child tax credit. But because states don’t recognize stillborn children as legal persons, parents do not qualify for the child tax credit.
Offering a one-time child tax credit for families who have experienced stillbirths is more than a matter of dollars and cents. It’s a compassionate measure, and a way for society to acknowledge that these children matter. Today, six states, including North Dakota, Minnesota, and Indiana, have such tax credits, passed by their legislatures with overwhelming bipartisan support. The tax credits range from $1,000 to $2,500 per family.
The legislation wouldn’t make any difference now for my family, but there are about 400 stillborn babies each year in Colorado, where I live. It might provide a small comfort for these families if the state passed similar legislation.
I joined other parents who had lost babies in several Democratic and Republican state representatives’ meetings. Legislators from both parties listened with sympathy to our stories. They agreed that what we presented should be a nonpartisan issue. One legislator directed us to a nonpartisan lobby group that handles legislation related to women’s and children’s health. This group would help lawmakers by screening proposed measures, getting stakeholders to sign off, and sometimes even drafting a bill.
Following the legislator’s advice, I reached out to the group. Attending the group’s meeting for the first time, I realized that, though it claimed to be nonpartisan, everyone at the meetings, from staff to participants, hailed from the Left. Not a single person at the sessions I attended was pro-life. Most of the legislative agendas this supposedly nonpartisan lobby group supports were typical left-wing issues, such as expanding abortion access and welfare.
Despite our political differences, I treated everyone I met with respect and checked my politics at the door. No matter what I heard—no matter how much I disagreed with some of the things said in those meetings—I neither spoke nor wrote about them. I took the meeting attendees’ confidence in me seriously. I reminded myself that I was there to advocate for a compassionate bill for all families who suffered, regardless of their political affiliation.
Initially, the progressives I met welcomed me. After I shared my story, representatives from pro-abortion groups, including the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado, agreed that they wouldn’t oppose the tax-credit bill because it was a nonpartisan, nonideological bill. (They did, however, insist that the bill not call a stillborn baby a “baby,” or even a “fetus.”) All seemed on track for the proposal to move through the legislative process and perhaps become law.
But a week after these groups pledged their support, I was told that they had changed their mind. They were still concerned that the bill would somehow acknowledge the personhood of stillborn babies. They believed even an implied acknowledgment would jeopardize their achievement: Colorado is one of the few states that allows late-term abortion up to the moment of birth. I later learned that this wasn’t the only reason they withdrew their support.
Now that the pro-abortion groups objected to the bill, the Democratic legislators who had initially been eager to sponsor it quietly withdrew their support and stopped returning my phone calls and emails. Since Democrats control the state legislature, Republican legislators told me that there was no point in introducing the bill because it would be killed in committee.
Later, three staff from this “nonpartisan” lobby group invited me for coffee. Thinking we would discuss how to salvage the tax-credit bill for the next legislative session, I showed up with two moms who had also lost babies. When the lobby staff walked into the coffee shop, I noticed that none wanted to hug me or shake my hand as usual (this was pre-pandemic). One didn’t even smile.
Shortly after we sat down, one said that she had recently “discovered” that I was a writer for The Federalist and had appeared on Fox News. I found out later that at least one staffer at the pro-abortion groups had done a Google search on me after our last meeting and had shared the finding with everyone else. They all withdrew their support for the bill immediately because they couldn’t support something championed by a conservative.
Back at the Starbucks, another staff member claimed that she and her colleagues had “shepherded” me because they believed I didn’t know much about the political and legislative process. When they learned from my writing that I was “sophisticated” and well-versed in policy, this staffer said, they felt I had misled them. Her colleagues joined her in saying that I should have been transparent about my politics when I reached out to them. I should have declared my political affiliation so that others would know. They said that they still wanted to work with me, but now there was a trust gap.
I realized at this point that the meeting had been a setup—an ambush. When they first met me months ago, they had put me in an identity box. Because of my skin color and accent, I was supposed to be an unsophisticated Asian liberal who needed white liberal elites to guide me through the legislative process. But not only was I a “sophisticated” author on several policy issues, I was, far worse, a contributor to conservative media. The pain I experienced from the loss of my child was no longer worth their sympathy and effort. My political views disqualified me from their support.
I finally got it: they would have accepted me if I had been the person they initially took me for. Then my pain and loss would have been worth something to them. I never heard from them again.
After a gunman shot and killed eight people in Atlanta, including six Asian women, all the left-wing and “nonpartisan” groups that had shunned me and shelved the tax-credit bill issued statements claiming that they stood with Asian-Americans against hate. They probably should have added a footnote: not applicable to conservative Asian-Americans.