VOICES: Actress Patricia Heaton Fights for Autism

Oct. 8, 2006 — -- Actress Patricia Heaton has won Emmys for her star turn on "Everybody Loves Raymond." Now, the mother of four boys is lending her political clout to the fight against autism. Teaming up with "Cure Autism Now," Heaton is pushing Congress to free up legislation that would dedicate nearly $1 billion to the cause.

Patricia Heaton: Autism is a disability that is not that well understood. And it's important to get federal funding because this is affecting children across every socioeconomic level. It's not dependent on race or where someone is financially. This is hitting many, many, many American children.

There's a wonderful bill that was just passed unanimously in the Senate -- Combating Autism Act. It's gone to the House. And even though it has a majority of support in the House, there is one representative, Joe Barton from Texas, who, unfortunately, is standing in the way of getting this bill passed.

We need to get politics out of the way here, because there are people's lives at stake. … I have met so many parents who have been affected by this. And it's heartbreaking. And yet I see these parents, and they are so strong. And they are-- They are fighting for their kids, really fighting for their kids. And that's why I'm here to really beg Joe Barton to pass this bill, because it has the support of everyone else. And I think he needs to do the right thing.