NARAL’s Ilyse Hogue in West Orange, New Jersey

NARAL Pro-Choice America’s President, Ilyse Hogue, put on her Health Care Voter t-shirt on Friday morning and hopped on the Drive for Our Lives bus, stopping in West Orange, New Jersey.

Before we arrived in West Orange, we gave Ilyse the keys to our Instagram account to document her day. Take a look at her Instagram takeover here.

When we arrived at the event, we met Ali, from West Orange, who shared her story about her son, Ethan, and how Medicaid helped save their family.

“On the last day of winter, three and a half years ago now, sitting across from an obstetrician I had never met before, I was told me that the child inside me—the boy that I had been so desperately hoping for—had a broken heart, almost beyond repair. We found out that day that my son, Ethan, has heterotaxy syndrome and nine congenital heart defects. Two left lungs, five spleens, a stomach on the right side, liver and gallbladder right down the middle. We didn’t know what else.

My husband couldn’t get a job to provide health insurance and the travel insurance that we carried maxed out before we even got my son’s full diagnosis. Our lives were falling apart and we weren’t sure where to turn. But then, we found Medicaid.

I will never ever forget the feeling of relief sitting across the desk from that woman in that office and realizing that because of the Affordable Care Act—because of the Medicaid expansion here in New Jersey—that there was a safety net for families like mine. It was waiting to catch us in our worst moment and we were falling right into it.

Ethan’s birth was covered by Medicaid. His first two surgeries were covered by Medicaid. One of those surgeries was performed when he was six days old and the next one when he was five and a half months old. That’s when they stopped his heart for the first time. Not the last time.

This is our life. This is our personal life that I need for share with you because someone thinks that my kid is not worth it. That’s the reality of our life.

The reality of our life is that with the Affordable Care Act, I will never look at a packet of insurance paperwork and wonder whether or not my son is going to be denied care. I will never wonder whether choosing life for him was the right choice because the Affordable Care Act means that I can continue to choose life for him every single day—over and over again—because that’s what you have to do when you have a medically fragile child. It’s not just a one-time deal.

I ask to be able to care for my child—to be able to secure his future. Because of the Affordable Care Act, because of Medicaid, I have been able to secure his past, the three years that he has had with us so far. I ask that no one looks at my son and says that he’s not worth it. Because you put in a lifetime cap, you put in exclusions for pre-existing conditions and what you’re telling me, and what you’re telling my little brown-eyed boy is that you’re just not worth it. Your life was good enough to save when you were inside your mother but you’re too expensive now that you’re here. That’s not acceptable to me and I don’t think it’s acceptable to anyone in this country.”

Following the event, Ilyse jumped back on the bus to answer YOUR questions about what is next for the health care fight, hosting a Twitter Q&A from Save My Care’s account.

Watch our entire event in West Orange here.