Iowa will soon have a law that allows children conceived up to two years after a parent dies to receive inheritance rights and Social Security benefits. A few years ago Patti Beeler of West Branch discovered her daughter — conceived with her husband’s sperm after he died of leukemia — was not eligible for Social Security.
Beeler was in the governor’s office late Thursday afternoon, watching as Governor Branstad signed the bill she had lobbied for into law. “It felt like fulfilling a promise I made to Bruce a long time ago,” Beeler says. Bruce Beeler was diagnosed with leukemia in 2000 and banked his sperm before undergoing chemotherapy. He died in 2001.
Patti Beeler has filed a lawsuit to try to get her husband’s Social Security benefits for her seven-year-old daughter. The bill that will become state law July 1st does not apply to her case.
“There won’t be many cases, but somebody else will be able to benefit from this some day.” Bruce’s sister, Vicki Beeler Neswald, was at the bill signing ceremony in Des Moines, too. “This is kind of bitter-sweet because we wish we weren’t even doing any of this because if Bruce were alive, we’d just be having a normal life and wouldn’t have to think or worry about things like this,” she says.
Representative Jeff Kaufmann, a Republican from Wilton, began working on the legislation about five years ago after getting a phone call from Patti Beeler. “Her story is absolutely nothing shy of inspiring,” Kaufmann says. “…Her devotion to her daughter. Her devotion to her husband. Her devotion to the Beeler family in West Branch — it just captured my heart.”
Another legislator — State Senator Pam Jochum of Dubuque — shepherded the bill through the senate and she says it helps Iowa law catch up with modern science.