John Boehner praises doctor who saved lawmaker's baby

WASHINGTON - In a break from his chamber's often acrid political divisions, a choked-up House Speaker John Boehner prompted two bipartisan standing ovations Wednesday when he praised the doctor who helped a congresswoman's infant survive a rare fetal condition.

Lawmakers reacted warmly after Boehner, R-Ohio, interrupted votes on education legislation to introduce Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Wash. The 35-year-old lawmaker stood up, holding and hugging her year-old baby, Abigail Rose.

He then introduced Dr. Jessica Bienstock, who specializes in high-risk pregnancies at Johns Hopkins University and was in the chamber's visitors' gallery.

Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler with husband Daniel Beutler and daughter Abigail at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital in California on July 23, 2013.
Office of Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler

While in the womb, the baby was diagnosed with Potter's sequence. That meant she lacked kidneys, which often results in under-developed lungs and nearly always causes newborns to quickly suffocate.

The baby's development improved after Bienstock injected saline into the congresswoman's womb.

"We're all familiar with Abigail's story and the odds that she overcame," Boehner said. "If she's a happy, healthy miracle, Dr. Bienstock is the miracle worker who helped give the gift of hope and life to this family."

"I think our house owes a debt of gratitude to her and to all of our doctors, nurses, and medical professionals," Boehner added, his voice breaking with emotion.

Abigail was born two months premature without kidneys and spent her first five months in intensive care. She is on dialysis and will need a transplant.