Anti-Obamacare Cancer Patient Defies Legal Threats

Democratic congressman dispatched lawyers, but Boonstra continues to speak

Gary Peters tried to silence Julie Boonstra from speaking out against Obamacare
Gary Peters / AP
March 4, 2014

Julie Boonstra, a cancer patient who was kicked off her health plan due to Obamacare, issued an emotional plea to Rep. Gary Peters (D., Mich.) on Tuesday after he dispatched lawyers to silence her from publicly telling her story.

Boonstra, a leukemia patient and Michigan resident, found herself at the center of a political storm this month after she went public in a televised advertisement to explain how she lost her health coverage as a result of President Barack Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which Peters voted in favor of.

After telling her story in an ad produced by the advocacy group Americans for Prosperity (AFP), Peters dispatched lawyers to prevent the spot from running on local television stations.

Peters’ bid to silence Boonstra sparked a political storm nationwide and forced the cancer patient and mother to defend her credibility in the press.

She also came under attack from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.), who called her a liar from Senate floor.

Boonstra has defied Peters’ lawyers and his legal threats in a new AFP ad released early Tuesday morning.

"All I want is to be listened to," Boonstra said in the ad. "When I heard that Congressman Peters was going after my credibility I was devastated."

Boonstra said that she was not motivated by politics, as many have accused, but by her desire to inform Americans about her suffering under Obamacare.

"I just want Congressman Peters to help me, to listen to me," Boonstra said. "Instead he’s trying to silence me. Cancer is hard enough. I just want to be happy with my plan."

Fighting through tears, Boonstra—who was given a 20 percent chance to survive her disease—explained that she just wanted the opportunity to discuss her issues under Obamacare.

"I want it for everyone else out there who is being hurt by this," she said. "I’m trying to speak out for you. And I’m trying to get Washington to listen to us."

"Because of Obamacare, I’m now stuck with a plan that doesn’t work for me. My choice was taken away from me," she said.

Boonstra’s story struck a nerve with voters earlier this month and prompted fierce pushback from Peters and other Democrats who supported Obama’s signature healthcare law.

She told the Washington Free Beacon late last month that she was shocked by Peters’ efforts to silence her.

"I’m appalled. I’m appalled as a mom, as a woman, and as a cancer patient, as someone living with cancer … who has stood before this nation to say, ‘I cannot afford that out of pocket expense,’" Boonstra said. "As a Michigan resident, to silence my voice, I’m absolutely appalled."

Peters’ lawyers threatened the licenses of any television station that plays AFP’s original ad featuring Boonstra.

"For the sake of both FCC licensing requirements and the public interest, your station should immediately require AFP to provide the factual documentation for its claims if you are going to continue airing this advertising," read the letter from Peters’ lawyers.

Boonstra attempted to confront the congressman at his door last month, but Peters did not answer when she knocked.

"I just went up to his house and knocked on his door," Boonstra said at the time. "I would like to meet with him, but he did not answer. I know someone was home, so I left a letter there for him."

While Peters has remained relatively silent about his attempts to silence Boonstra and AFP, Reid has gone on the offensive.

Reid called her story "untrue," though he offered no evidence to support his claim. He instead called the attacks on Obamacare a carefully orchestrated campaign by the libertarian Koch brothers.

The latest AFP ad featuring Boonstra will begin airing on Michigan television stations on Tuesday despite Peters' legal campaign. AFP has spent more than $1 million to feature Boonstra's story in the media.

It remains unclear if the Koch brothers gave Boonstra cancer so that she could rail against Obamacare in an advertisement.

Published under: Obamacare