Santorum: Our Abortion Was Different

Rick Santorum is one dangerously confused denialist. The former Pennsylvania Senator and presidential aspirant is best known for his inability to associate his professed compassion for life at the level of the zygote, with the physical realities of human sexuality.  He has equated loving same-sex relationships to bestiality.  He is opposed to abortion under any circumstance. Almost.

In October, 1996, his wife Karen had a second trimester abortion.  They don’t like to describe it that way. In his 2004 interview with Terry Gross, Santorum characterizes the fetus, who must be treated as an autonomous person, as a practically a gunslinging threat, whom the mother must murder in self-defense. Karen has had to justify her decision to save her own life by explaining that if she died her other children would have lost a mother.

Republican extremists in Congress and the statehouses propose to make abortion illegal even if it would save the mother’s life.  Even the Santorums admit they would make that choice, while claiming that they didn’t.

Losing a pregnancy because of a fatal fetal anomaly is never cause for celebration. The pain of second-trimester abortions is compounded by the hateful hypocrites who vilify families facing sorrowful circumstances, and the resulting scarcity of abortion clinicians.

It is revolting that Rick and Karen Santorum choose to stigmatize and harass those of us who, as they did, grieve over the loss of a possible child in the second trimester.

Abortion should not be driving U.S. policy.  It’s not a more fundamental right than the right to a job or safety from violence.  But we can’t stop it from being used as a wedge issue if we never talk about our experiences.  

Here’s the Santorums’ description of their second trimester abortion, written by Steve Goldstein, Philadelphia Inquirer,  May 4, 1997

Karen was in her 19th week of pregnancy. Husband and wife were in a suburban Virginia office for a routine sonogram when a radiologist told them that the fetus Karen was carrying had a fatal defect and was going to die.

After consulting with specialists, who offered several options including abortion, the Santorums decided on long-shot intrauterine surgery to correct an obstruction of the urinary tract called posterior urethral valve syndrome.

A few days later, rare “bladder shunt” surgery was performed at Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia. The incision in the womb carried a high risk of infection.

Two days later, at home in the Pittsburgh suburb of Verona, Karen Santorum became feverish. Her Philadelphia doctors instructed her to hurry to Pittsburgh’s Magee-Women’s Hospital, which has a unit specializing in high-risk pregnancies.

<strong>After examining Karen, who was nearly incoherent with a 105-degree fever, a doctor at Magee led Santorum into the hallway outside her room and said that she had an intrauterine infection and some type of medical intervention was necessary. Unless the source of the infection, the fetus, was removed from Karen’s body, she would likely die.

At minimum, the doctor said, Karen had to be given antibiotics intravenously or she might go into septic shock and die.

The Santorums were at a crossroads.

Once they agreed to use antibiotics, they believed they were committing to delivery of the fetus, which they knew would most likely not survive outside the womb.</strong>

“The doctors said they were talking about a matter of hours or a day or two before risking sepsis and both of them might die,” Santorum said. “Obviously, if it was a choice of whether both Karen and the child are going to die or just the child is going to die, I mean it’s a pretty easy call.”

Shivering under heated blankets in Magee’s labor and delivery unit as her body tried to reject the source of the infection, Karen felt cramping from early labor.

Santorum agreed to start his wife on intravenous antibiotics “to buy her some time,” he said.

The antibiotics brought Karen’s fever down. The doctor suggested a drug to accelerate her labor.

“The cramps were labor, and she was going to get into more active labor,” Santorum said. “Karen said, `We’re not inducing labor, that’s an abortion. No way. That isn’t going to happen. I don’t care what happens.’ ”

As her fever subsided, Karen – a former neonatal intensive-care nurse – asked for something to stop the labor. Her doctors refused, Santorum recalled, citing malpractice concerns.

Santorum said her labor proceeded without having to induce an abortion.

Karen, a soft-spoken red-haired 37-year-old, said that “ultimately” she would have agreed to intervention for the sake of her other children.

“If the physician came to me and said if we don’t deliver your baby in one hour you will be dead, yeah, I would have to do it,” she said. “But for me, it was at the very end. I would never make a decision like that until all other means had been thoroughly exhausted.”

The fetus was delivered at 20 weeks, at least a month shy of what most doctors consider viability.

In the months after the birth and death of Gabriel Michael Santorum, rumors began circulating in the Pennsylvania medical community that Karen Santorum had undergone an abortion. Those rumors found their way to The Inquirer, prompting the questions that led to this article.

“There are a lot of people who aren’t big fans of Rick Santorum,” the senator said of the rumors. “You’re a public figure, and you’re out there. Maybe it accomplishes a political purpose”…


see also:    The New Yorker, Jan. 5, 1998

An article chronicles the troubled pregnancy of Karen Santorum, wife of partial-birth-abortion foe Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., and the evolution of the senator’s views on the procedure. A birth defect threatened the lives of both fetus and mother, forcing the couple to face the ethical question of whether or not to abort to save her life. Premature labor made the quandary moot–the baby died two hours after birth–but stiffened their resolve against late-term abortion. (A “Strange Bedfellow” bashes Santorum’s “pathetic grandstanding.”)


Audio Interview:  Santorum defends the GOP Platform on Reproductive Rights 

Terry Gross, Fresh Air  Aug 30, 2004 (20 min.)

Santorum discusses:

Human Life amendment to the constitution,

Why judges opposed to Roe are not activists,

That embryos from fertility clinics should be adopted, 

The Catholic mass and viewing with his children at home of his son, Gabriel, who was born 4 months premature and lived for 2 hours .

Listen to entire interview.

Activists urged to call Family Circle on abortion article

November, 1997


Family Circle magazine featured an anti-abortion article in the “Full Circle” section of their October 1997 issue. The article, written by Karen Santorum, decried the use of late-term abortion under any circumstances. And it told the story of her own tragic pregnancy and the decision she and her family made – an option she and her husband would deny to other women .

Karen Santorum is the wife of right-wing, anti-abortion Senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.). In 1996, Senator Santorum led the debate on a bill that attempted to ban late-term abortions, and refused to make an exception even in the case of “grievous bodily injury” to the woman. In Santorum’s article, she expresses her view that carrying a non-viable fetus to term is the only option, and apparently does not think the woman’s health or future fertility should be a consideration.

The National Abortion Federation (NAF) responded by requesting that a patient response be printed in the next issue, thus presenting an opposing view and bringing the argument “Full Circle.” We have learned from NAF that Family Circle is only planning to publish “Letters to the Editor,” and your actions could change their decision. Please urge Family Circle to print the article by Sophie Horak, which was submitted to them by NAF, in its entirety. We do not have permission to send you the text of the original article.

We urge you to email Family Circle at or call (212-499-2000) and express concern over their incomplete (and in this case, biased) reporting on the very private issue of abortion.

Send letters to:

Family Circle Magazine


Karen Santorum’s letter to ill-fated son express joy, sorrow

Tuesday, June 23, 1998

By Karen MacPherson


 Father First, Senator Second

For Rick Santorum, Politics Could Hardly Get More Personal

By Mark Leibovich

Washington Post Staff Writer

Monday, April 18, 2005; Page C01

In his Senate office, on a shelf next to an autographed baseball, Sen. Rick Santorum keeps a framed photo of his son Gabriel Michael, the fourth of his seven children. Named for two archangels, Gabriel Michael was born prematurely, at 20 weeks, on Oct. 11, 1996, and lived two hours outside the womb.

Upon their son’s death, Rick and Karen Santorum opted not to bring his body to a funeral home. Instead, they bundled him in a blanket and drove him to Karen’s parents’ home in Pittsburgh. There, they spent several hours kissing and cuddling Gabriel with his three siblings, ages 6, 4 and 1 1/2. They took photos, sang lullabies in his ear and held a private Mass.

“That’s my little guy,” Santorum says, pointing to the photo of Gabriel, in which his tiny physique is framed by his father’s hand. The senator often speaks of his late son in the present tense. It is a rare instance in which he talks softly.

He and Karen brought Gabriel’s body home so their children could “absorb and understand that they had a brother,” Santorum says. “We wanted them to see that he was real,” not an abstraction, he says. Not a “fetus,” either, as Rick and Karen were appalled to see him described — “a 20-week-old fetus” — on a hospital form. They changed the form to read “20-week-old baby.”

Karen Santorum, a former nurse, wrote letters to her son during and after her pregnancy. She compiled them into a book, “Letters to Gabriel,” a collection of prayers, Bible passages and a chronicle of the prenatal complications that led to Gabriel’s premature delivery. At one point, her doctor raised the prospect of an abortion, an “option” Karen ridicules. “Letters to Gabriel” also derides “pro-abortion activists” and decries the “infanticide” of “partial-birth abortion,” the legality of which Rick Santorum was then debating in the Senate. The book reads, in places, like a call to action.

“When the partial-birth abortion vote comes to the floor of the U.S. Senate for the third time,” Karen writes to Gabriel, “your daddy needs to proclaim God’s message for life with even more strength and devotion to the cause.”

The issue came up again the following spring. Santorum, a Pennsylvania Republican, appeared on the Senate floor with oversize illustrations of fetuses in various stages of delivery. He described the process by which a physician “brutally kills” a child “by thrusting a pair of scissors into the back of its skull and suctioning its brains out.” He asked that a 5-year-old girl be admitted to the visitors’ gallery, though Senate rules forbid children under 6. “She is very interested in the subject,” Santorum said, explaining that the girl’s mother had been a candidate for a late-term abortion when doctors advised her during her pregnancy that the child was unlikely to survive.

Sen. Barbara Boxer objected, saying it would be “rather exploitive to have a child present in the gallery” during such a debate. Santorum relented, bemoaning Boxer’s objection as proof that “we have coarsened the comity of this place.”

 The same has been said of Santorum. In so many words, or facial gestures….

93 thoughts on “Santorum: Our Abortion Was Different

  1. Strictly from your own writings & references :

    They did everything medically possible to save their son – even longshot surgeries – even to the detriment of the mother’s health.

    In the hospital, she flatly refused to allow doctors to induce labor – opting instead for a course of antibiotics in a last-ditch attempt to save mother & child.

    When illness-induced premature labor began, she begged doctors to stop it – they refused, fearing for their malpractice insurance.

    She delivered their son and held him until he died of the illness that caused his premature delivery.

    – and you still refer to this as an “abortion”.

    Clearly, your hatred of the Santorums and their stance on homosexuality has robbed you of any semblance of intellectual honesty.

    – Ron

    • No – they HAD a second trimester abortion, and they did it to save Karen. This is a right they would deny to all other women. There is no such thing as “partial birth abortion” using scissors to puncture the brain – that is a LIE, and it is scare tactics that work. So other women must die if they are physcially incapable of delivery, if their health requires a different proceedure. This turns NOT on whether the abortion occurred – it DID – but simply on the method. Their self justification is disgusting, and their hypocrisy overwhelming.

    • “If the physician came to me and said if we don’t deliver your baby in one hour you will be dead, yeah, I would have to do it,” she said. “But for me, it was at the very end. I would never make a decision like that until all other means had been thoroughly exhausted.”

      Seems to me that they want to have a choice, a choice that they would actively take away from anyone else.

    • They did everything medically possible to save their son

      No, Ron, they did not. They accepted the antibiotics even though the doctors told them that this would likely spell the death of the child.

      From the article:

      After examining Karen, who was nearly incoherent with a 105-degree fever, a doctor at Magee led Santorum into the hallway outside her room and said that she had an intrauterine infection and some type of medical intervention was necessary. Unless the source of the infection, the fetus, was removed from Karen’s body, she would likely die.

      At minimum, the doctor said, Karen had to be given antibiotics intravenously or she might go into septic shock and die.

      The Santorums were at a crossroads.

      Once they agreed to use antibiotics, they believed they were committing to delivery of the fetus, which they knew would most likely not survive outside the womb.

      A nuanced case, to be sure, where the parents had to make an agonizing choice. Life-and-death decisions are complex and we often don’t have all the information we would like. We are dealing with odds, unknowns and very little time.

      Santorum would tell everyone else that they are not allowed to struggle with these complexities and make their own decision. According to him, a fetal child has as much right to life as the woman who carries him or her. In that worldview, what gives the doctor the right to give poison to the child in order to save the mother?

      I have no problem justifying the decision to give her IV antibiotics. What I don’t understand is how they justify it, themselves.

    • It is called an abortion because that is what the medical professionals chose to call what it is that happens when a pregnancy prematurely ends. The human body expelling… here, read the medical terminology:
      Abortion: In medicine, an abortion is the premature exit of the products of conception (the fetus, fetal membranes, and placenta) from the uterus. It is the loss of a pregnancy and does not refer to why that pregnancy was lost.

      A spontaneous abortion is the same as a miscarriage. The miscarriage of 3 or more consecutive pregnancies is termed habitual abortion.

      end c&p

      There was not an illness involved. The fetus did not develop properly to sustain life. Abortion sometimes happens spontaneously, and it can’t always be stopped.

      Your snarky comment about homosexuality was unnecessary.

    • Rick Santorum is a hypocrite. Not because his wife had an abortion, she did not. She has a premature birth. However, they chose to try a high risk procedure that would possibly correct a birth defect in the unborn fetus. Had this procedure not been preformed the fetus’ lungs would most likely be under developed posing the risk of death or stillbirth to the fetus. I fully understand that you want the best for your children. Yet, how many women are told by doctors that their fetus’ will not live, yet they choice to go ahead with the pregnancy only to have the baby turn out just fine? If they are that faithful, why not leave it in God’s hands? Based on my research this condition isn’t dangerous to the mother, Karen would have been fine. It was their attempts to intervene that put her at risk. They knew that this was a very possible outcome of the corrective surgery, I am also sure they knew that fetal ultrasound studies are not always accurate. Karen received antibiotics because her uterus was infected from this surgery. Antibiotics can cause premature labor, but so does an infected uterus. As a nurse, Karen knew better than anyone that this child’s only hope at this point was to come out, and that at 19 weeks it’s survival would have been a miracle. Her pleas to stop the labor were not based on her strong religious beliefs to not have an abortion, nor her medical knowledge. They were a hormonal mother’s denial, which is the first step in grief. Had Karen been given drugs to stop her labor she would have died along with the fetus of septic shock. I understand their decision wasn’t an easy one, but it was theirs to make. Rick Santorum’s goal it to govern America according to God’s will as written in the bible. Yet when it comes right down to it, the Santorum’s didn’t trust God, they trusted their doctor’s interpretation of an ultra sound. Everyone has the right to their own relationship with their own God. If you and God need a middle man you already have one, your preacher. If God wanted it to be mandatory that we follow the bible he would do it by removing our free will. Jesus wasn’t send to enforce the word of God, he was sent to teach. Is Rick Santorum so close to God that you would allow him to interpret and mandate the will of God upon us all?

      • I do not hate santorium because of his choices but i think he is trying to make everyone like him. He voted against raising of the minimum wage while thinking of himself. That is not Gods way.

        • I wonder if it comes to the point where the doctor tells them she cannot have anymore children because it would be to risky for her.Are we going to have to pay for her birth control or to have her tubes tied.

    • I agree with you. Santorum has become so hated that he is unfairly deemed a hypocrite here.

      Still I see exactly why he is SO HATED. It was voyeuristic to even read this story. No one is ever entitled to these private details much less being able to dictate to the prospective parents HOW they should handle it and WHAT decisions they should make.

      Yet, he does feel the right to make that decision for all. And clearly, based on this story, the man has developed a mentally unhealthy obsession with the survival of a fetus at all costs – with total disregard for the woman, her other children, and even for the potential suffering of the child that fetus might become.

      If his vision for abortion law were to be enacted, every courtroom around our nation would not just violate but make a mockery of the right to privacy for every woman.

      The man needs help, not votes.

    • She said she would have ultimately agreed to the induction for the sake of her other children.

      Were Santorum’s legislation in place, and if Karen had not gone into labor naturally, both she and the fetus would have died. She and her husband could have begged and screamed for a life-saving procedure, but they would have been refused, and he would have had to watch helplessly as his wife died. This is what the Santorums wish for everyone but themselves.

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  3. Santorum apparently doesn’t have the depth of intellect to understand that individuals can be both pro-life AND pro-choice at the same time. I am. Faced with an unplanned, badly timed pregnancy, I learned that I could never have an abortion despite my unfortunate situation at the time. (And let me just add that the ‘bible’ had nothing to do with my decision. I read it cover to cover and it had nothing for me.) But many women are in intolerable situations and lack the resources or health to carry a pregnancy to term. I empathize with them for the terrible decision they have to make. Fundamentalist fanatics only see the world as black or white. There are no nuances of grey and there is no need for judges in courts of law to reason out what’s right and fair. Everyone should just do as he says (and apparently, not as he does.)

  4. It really does bother me that there are those out there that consider their beliefs to have more merit and more value than their opponents. Every individual is entitled to his or her own opinion, whether the rest of us think it is valid or not. That is what being a free individual is all about. However, we as free individuals do not have the right to thrust our views onto other people. Personally I am pro-choice, as someone who has seen the disasterous results of both sides of the coin – women (girls) keeping babies they were not mentally, emotionally, or financially ready for and as a result their lives have become unmitigated disasters. Others have kept their babies and have become amazing mothers who have created loving, emotionally supportive environments for their children.

    Other women i’ve known have chosen to end their pregnancies. Their reasons have not always been revealed to me, but I can certainly attest to the relief of a fifteen year old friend upon the completion of her abortion, as well as the utter devastation of another friend who at 23 decided to end a pregnancy and has regretted it ever snce.

    The bottom line is that as women (and their partners) living in the developed world in the 21st century, able to vote, drive, work, create law, uphold law, and even break laws we should have the ability to make the choice for ourselves. And if we as intelligent human beings make the choice to end a pregnancy and not bring a child into their world, we should not have to do so in secret, nor should we have to justify our reasons. Any decision that has the possible conatations and consequenses that procreation and parenthood do should have serious thought behind it, but in the end, whether a choice is made to continue with a pregnancy or end it, we have the right to make that decision, and no one should have the ability to take that decision away, nor should they expect that we share their beliefs.

    If we all don’t come to this understanding I fear that eventually we will end up living in a world like Margaret Atwood portrayed in her novel “A Handmaids Tale” where women have no rights, and are often only used for breeding stock. I think in a world like that we all lose

  5. So THEIR abortion was different, since they had it for the sake of their other children, but any other pregnant mother whose unwanted embryo or fetus cannot choose to end the pregnancy? Reading this piece exposes their hypocrisy, doesn’t it? Family values, my left foot. Sanctimonious Sanorums, aren’t they? I went to Pitt & PTI and lived in Pgh for years before moving to Mesa, Arizona, not long after Santorum had been elected. Take care and hang in there if you can, everyone.

    Big hugs,


    Warren G. Richards
    Mesa AZ

  6. I have a problem with this article. It states that Karen Sanatorium had an abortion, and then goes on to describe rather how Mrs. Sanatorium gave birth to a 20 week old fetus that lived for two hours outside of the womb. This is a premature birth. It is NOT the same as an abortion, and I find the title and the first paragraph to be extremely misleading. I am in no way a fan of the Sanatorium’s but this is a smear campaign against them and is reprehensible. I suggest learning what true journalism is really about. This is not it.

    • No – this was induced. Read it again. They were FINE with it if it saved Karen. They are not fine with it if it saves YOU.

    • Santorum agreed to start his wife on intravenous antibiotics “to buy her some time,” he said. “Obviously, if it was a choice of whether both Karen and the child are going to die or just the child is going to die, I mean it’s a pretty easy call.”,”

      “Karen said, `We’re not inducing labor, that’s an abortion.’ ”

      You can call it what you want, I call it messin’ with the kid.

  7. Your article states rather plainly that the Santorums did not in fact have an abortion. That the child was delivered at 20 weeks naturally. And that the living child was cared for and despite all medical efforts possible died after just 2 hours. This is NOT about an abortion. It’s about liberals who hate their betters.

    • Pick on the medical community if you don’t approve of the word.
      Abortion: In medicine, an abortion is the premature exit of the products of conception (the fetus, fetal membranes, and placenta) from the uterus. It is the loss of a pregnancy and does not refer to why that pregnancy was lost.

      A spontaneous abortion is the same as a miscarriage. The miscarriage of 3 or more consecutive pregnancies is termed habitual abortion.

      Definition of Spontaneous abortion

      Spontaneous abortion: A miscarriage, that is, any pregnancy that is not viable (the fetus cannot survive) or in which the fetus is born before the 20th week of pregnancy. Spontaneous abortion occurs in at least 15-20% of all recognized pregnancies and usually takes place before the 13th week of pregnancy.

      A spontaneous abortion is as opposed to an induced abortion. In a spontaneous abortion, it is purely accidental, that is spontaneous.(end c&p)

      (What you want to call a delivery at 19 weeks, is not natural and not a delivery.)

    • “It’s about liberals who hate their betters”…really? Here we have definitive evidence that the ultra-conservatives erroneously consider themselves to be superior. I’d say this bookends nicely with an article in which Santorum’s wife states that she would, indeed, “have agreed to an intervention for the sake of her own children” while still staunchly defending the position that others should not have that opportunity.
      Very sad. Sad that they had to lose a pregnancy, and sad that they didn’t develop one shred of empathy as a result of the experience.

      • “Very sad. Sad that they had to lose a pregnancy, and sad that they didn’t develop one shred of empathy as a result of the experience.” I agree completely. Clearly this was a horrific experience for them, yet they made a choice so the mother could live. Yet they came out of it no better than before, still denying others the right to make the same choice.

    • I think the point of the article was that this same “non-abortion” would not be permitted in Santorum’s world. The baby had a fatal defect, and the Santorums chose to operate on the fetus, which was the cause of the infection that threatened Karen’s life. For the sake of their living children, Karen could have undergone an abortion without operating on the fetus. It was their choice not to do this. So the point is, they got their choices and their medical care, but they would deny this to other women and families in similar situations.

    • You forget the fact that this birth was triggered by antibiotics, to the mother, which induced the labor. This decision made on a fetus at 20 weeks who would not be viable is an abortion.

      In the current language of Santorum and his followers a mother must never allow anything that would induce labor unless there was a chance of a viable birth. This wasn’t.

      There is still a conflict on the sequence of events here.

    • “…This is NOT about an abortion. It’s about liberals who hate their betters.”
      Their betters?? Would you care to clarify that, please? Are you stating that all liberals are inferior? To whom?

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  11. This wasn’t a REAL abortion. It was a procedure to remove a condemned fetus from a woman in danger, who had other children. REAL abortions are sought by women who are slutty, irresponsible, lazy, and don’t want the inconvenience of having a child even after they voluntarily had sex.

    (How did my wingnut mitigation attempt go?)

    • Spot on, thanks. At abortion clinics across America, girls and women who stand outside most days are INSIDE when it turns out they get pregnant and don’t want to be. They won’t sit in the waiting room “I’m not like those sluts” they cry. But they are like every other woman who runs into a brick wall of an unintended pregnancy. Then they go OUT and continue to picket and protest as if nothing ever happened to them.

      I’ve seen them, know their names, would OUT them if I did not respect patient confidentiality. They are disgusting and hypocrites just like the Santorums.

      • You are spot on as well. These women who protest know that they and their daughters. are protected by the same laws.It is a terrible kind of hypocrisy, a kind of schizoprenic mental separation from their brainwashing and what they know to be true, that they do have a choice. Clearly what the Santorums went through was horrible but in the end they had a choice for th mother to live. Would Santorum condem his own wife? He would but he didn’t. This is what I mean by this schizophrenic menatl separation between the brainwashing and the truth. May God forgive him.

    • Awesome! Even though it seems that they did not actually have an abortion, the fact that they would have considered one if it was absolutely necessary to save her life, shows that they may have made a choice they want to deny to others. Pretty disgusting. So….Mrs. Santorum, if the doctors had said that the baby must be born quickly to save your life, and it wasn’t being born quickly, you are ok with knowing that, based on your political views, you would have died, along with your baby. Hmmmmm…..

  12. And his wife’s termination for medical reasons was different from ours how? Every single woman who is a part of the AHC “A Heartbreaking Choice” community made this choice out of love – not because we didn’t want our children. It was exactly because we did/do love our children so much that we make these agonizing choices. We are so “humane” to our pets, yet when we show the love to our own children, to spare them from suffering or dieing at birth,we are then vilified and called names. It sickens me that society places more emphasis on the right to life at ANY cost than it does on the quality of life. No one can say what life would have entailed for our children, but WE, the parents, had the right to make the choice to spare our children from suffering, so we did.

    People who have been through this horrific choice – of whether to let your child go full-term and then suffer and possibly die at birth, or to grant them peace before they ever know a moment of suffering need to stand up to people like Sen. Santorum. We need them to know that our children were loved and are remembered, every day. Our loss is no different than his – we only made a conscious choice to spare our children from suffering.

  13. Actually, the sources say he “compared” gay sex to “man on dog” and “man on child.” What he said was “That’s not to pick on homosexuality. It’s not, you know, man on child, man on dog.” That is, he compared but did not equate. He distinguished it from bestiality and pedophilia. In the same interview, he did bundle homosexuality with bigamy, polygamy, incest and adultery, though! But he certainly did not equate it to bestiality as you claim. Presently, this page is near the top of my Google results for “santorum.” You might consider correcting this error.

    I’m an Australian liberal, with no affection for the candidate, whatever. But I’m a volunteer Wikipedia editor and for the last week have been discussing and reading about this issue on the discussion page of our article “Santorum (neologism)”, just renamed “Santorum Google problem.”

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  16. Sorry just catching up with all this. Others have said it better than I but to be as clear as possible: what the Santorums did was a technical distinction without a difference. Technically, an uninduced termination at 20 weeks is on the cusp between a miscarriage and prematurity; but there is no prospect for survival at that age, and there were other health complications in this case. The pregnancy was not viable. Karen Santorum did not go to the hospital to deliver a child and did not. Her baby was, sadly, doomed. The pregnancy was close to a spontaneous abortion, but in this case it was terminated under close medical supervision; had surgical intervention been necessary to actually extract the fetus, and incidentally to save her life, she was prepared to authorize it. (For the sake of the children, of course.) She forced awful suffering on herself and family to defend her husband’s career and their beliefs. All of us who’ve had the sad experience of a second trimester anomaly can only be horrified that this powerful couple would condemn many other women to likely if not certain death under similar circumstances, and curtail if not entirely eliminate better choices for all of us. The exquisite medical expertise they enjoyed is far more rare in Pennsylvania today, thanks in no small part to anti-choice bullying. 30% of U.S. women have an abortion at some time in their life; if all of them had the courage to be honest about their experiences, our policies would look a lot different, and so would the life chances of the truly vulnerable.

  17. People who have been through this horrific choice – of whether to let your child go full-term and then suffer and possibly die at birth, or to grant them peace before they ever know a moment of suffering need to stand up to people like Sen. Santorum. We need them to know that our children were loved and are remembered, every day. Our loss is no different than his – we only made a conscious choice to spare our children from suffering.

  18. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone. What a horrible ordeal for any family to go through. The one part of the story that continues to bother me is bundling up the dead baby and bringing him home for the other children to bond with. Even though I’m sure they meant well, that had to be so disturbing. “Say hello to your dead baby brother, hold him and sing him a lullaby!” Wonder if those poor kids experienced night terrors after that experience.

    • If the wife was indeed a neonatal nurse as I am, then she would NOT have brought the dead baby home. She WOULD have held her dead child, had pictures taken, and footprints done. She would have mourned the child and then, after a few hours the dead child who would now be starting to have rigor, would be taken to the morgue. What they did was insane, and their children could not have possibly benefited from their deranged behavior. It reveals much about them and how they consider themselves ‘different’, which is code for ‘we can do whatever we want but you can’t’. Santorum would have made a good Gestapo and now he’s got the nerve to make his other disabled child a reason for dropping out of the race (Thank Goodness). This miscreant doesn’t have the GUTS to just say, “I’m a loser”. No, he’d rather say, “…my daughter with Trisomy 18 is dying….poor me..” Ugh. What a puke he is!

  19. Wow.

    She had an abortion and he still decries it.
    He has had multiple encounters with various animals and still decries bestiality.

    It amazes me that hypocrisy runs so deep in that man.

  20. The Santorums may have exhausted all alternatives, but, BY THEIR OWN ADMISSIONS, they WOULD have had an abortion if her life had been at stake. In other words, THE EXACT PROCEDURE THEY ARE TRYING TO DENY EVERYONE ELSE. They ARE hypocrites (even though HIS hypocrisy is the important one, he being the public figure), & no amount of equivocating about the medical differences can change that. Oh, & to the coward who pretending to shield his family, “This is about conservatives who hate their betters.”

  21. Doctors induced labor of a fetus too young to live outside the womb so that the life of the mother could be saved. That is the gist of it.
    Rick Santorum is a hypocrite. When it came to his own wife he opted to put his beliefs aside to save his wife’s life. They made a decision that was the correct one for them.
    Too bad Santorum doesn’t respect the rights of other people to make those decisions.

    • @tigertooth
      Thank you for posting that link. As I read the article at this page, I didn’t feel that their choice could be called an ‘choosing to abort’ (as opposed to spontaneously aborting. When I read the article you linked, stating that she was given pitocin to induce labor, that changed my view completely.
      As a neonatal nurse she full well knew that inducing labor for a fetus at that stage of development -was- an abortion. The baby would not survive, no different than any other aborting method used.

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  23. As I read this description of events, I only see attribution given to statements by the Santorums. We do not get a doctor’s name or those of any nurses, although we get information they supposedly gave. I’ve tried to report on medical issues and the medical community, even then, was lawsuit-wary when dispensing information. This tells me we are mainly getting the Santorums version of events.

    What did the child’s Death Certificate say? Is there even one? How does its existence or lack of existence differ for aborted fetuses versus a true early birth and subsequent death in Pennsylvania? Those are searchable public records. Did any reporters every try to verify those details?

  24. Either way it way an abortion – Spontaneous abortion ie miscarriage or an Induced abortion which she admits that she would have done if her life had become even more jeopardized.

    He and his wife were given CHOICE as to how to handle their doomed pregnancy (Trisomy 18) yet they want to deny the rest of us our right to CHOICE of how to field our own reproductive lives and choices – that’s hypocrisy at it’s finest!

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  26. As difficult as Karen’s situation is, she is lucky to be able to access a safe abortion. This is a fact.
    220,000 children are orphaned every year because their mum had to access an unsafe service that resulted in her preventable death.
    4 planes go down every day full of women who can not access these services. All passengers on these planes are dead. All are women. All are preventable.
    Access to safe abortion is as much of a human right,as is access to contraception. Both of which will prevent up to 70% of maternal deaths. If we are serious about preventing maternal deaths, then we must look at contraception and safe reproductive health services.
    Helping a mum of 7 to have her 9th child in a safe environment contravenes a family’s right to manage the size of that family (and their poverty), and the famous African saying that a mother says to her children each time might remind us of this burden:
    “I am going to the river to fetch me a baby. The journey is long and arduous and I may not return.”

  27. Pingback: Santorum Makes Excuses For His Wife’s Abortion « Steve Bates, The Yellow Doggerel Something

  28. Pingback: Rick Santorum and abortion « There Are No Others

  29. Pingback: Rodeo Round Up: “None of these are Onion articles, I’m serious” Edition | OK4RJ: Oklahomans for Reproductive Justice

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  31. Whether technically and abortion or not, you’d think this would clue Santorum in that it is not a black and white issue. With him there are no shades of gray, his way or the highway, do as I say, not as I do. You’d think he’d had his heart aborted at some point in his life. We don’t need self rightous cold-hearted hypocrits in power in this country.

  32. I agree with Kathy T- if I ever saw someone carrying around a (real) dead fetus I would IMMEDIATELY escort them to the nearest mental institution. If I were their parents & they came to my house with their dead fetus, kissing it & singing to it, and taking PICTURES of their DEAD “baby” (which apparently Santorum still keeps in his home), I would have them committed as soon as possible!!!!

    If that’s not enough, hearing him WANT to show 5 year olds pictures of someone stabbing “brains” with scissors & “sucking” the “brain” out of the skull (and I put brains in question marks because I have a B.S. in Neuroscience & have had extensive studies on the development of the human brain, which is certainly now where close to being fully developed @ 20 wks, let alone even being considered a “human” yet by the scientific community, but it is technically a “brain,” yes), is not only inappropriate for a 5 year old to witness, it is something that MEDICAL students would never see because that’s NOT how the procedure is done!!!

    He’s INSANE!! & he’s running for President of the United States?! Yet someone wrote earlier in this blog that liberals think conservatives are their “better”??! Ha!

  33. “Your article states rather plainly that the Santorums did not in fact have an abortion. That the child was delivered at 20 weeks naturally. And that the living child was cared for and despite all medical efforts possible died after just 2 hours. This is NOT about an abortion. It’s about liberals who hate their betters.”

    I agree with the author of this comment that it was disingenuous to present the action that the Santorums took as an abortion. However, I cannot believe how this person ended their comment! I also know why the person who put this article together presented the material in this manner. I agree that the Santorums taking an absolutist stance is anywhere from hypocritical to denial to downright insensitivity. This information should be being presented, but not as the Santorums being scum but as them taking a truly saddening and emotional circumstance and either ignoring the sympathy and empathy it should have engendered in them or twisting and ignoring it for political gain. I do find it disgraceful that if two people in this world should believe in the freedom of choice it should be them! They were given the right to risk the mother’s life, and so should another woman be allowed to not risk it.

  34. Only a very selfish couple with a savior complex would risk giving birth to a baby who might suffer for a few hours and then die.

    So self-righteous and crazy. And this man feels he has the right to FORCE others to do as he believes.

  35. Did you miss the part where they both admitted that they would have chosen to induce, would willingly have aborted their child, if the doctors said it was the only thing that that would save moms life? I only ask because your blatant mischaracterization of the Santorums makes it seem otherwise.

  36. Last I heard, Santorum was mocking the medical exemption for abortion. I can’t believe that it was fine for his wife but not for anybody else.

  37. Santorum is a vile hypocrite and like the rest of the GOP lunatics who want to insert themselves into the uteri of all women they are NOT pro-life; only PRO-Birth. Once the baby is born, they don’t give and damn about it and would deny it any social services like WIC, AFDC or Food Stamps since they are ‘entitlements’. But NO Abortion – have that baby no matter what it does to you, your body, your other kids, your husband or your life. But MY WIFE can have a 2nd trimester abortion because WE’RE SPECIAL. He makes me want to vomit. The definition Google has of SANTORUM is accurate indeed. Fecal foam and semen – that’s Santorum!

  38. My baby died when he was 5 days old. He was normal in every way outwardly. Yes, we took pictures of him after he died. These were some of the only physical memories we would ever have of him.

    Taking the child to another location seems odd, but it was offered to us as well. People grieve the loss of babies in a different way than older people. You can’t mock the way someone reacts to something so bitter. That’s what it is… BITTER. LIFE-CHANGING. They wanted their children to understand. That’s not wrong or “weird”.

  39. I just want to explain something. Someone mentioned that they were pro- life and pro- choice there is no such thing. Even if you are trying to explain that abortion is wrong for you. You still just fall under the category of pro- choice. When you are ok with making that choice for everyone else you fall under the category of pro- life. The Santorums have come out and said there is no choice under any circumstances and they did have choices, everyone should get those choices. When they came out as against abortion in the case of rape, incest, and health of the mother they look like two fools who have never thought about the consequence of force. They should, however, because it is not an American ideal.

  40. Pingback: The GOP ‘WTF?’ Hour « I Can't Be Famous

  41. I am a young pro-lifer and I have a question. It is hard to communicate tone sometimes in these things, so let me start by saying that my question is a sincere effort to understand the opposing view a little more fully and perhaps to offer some understanding of my side in the process. I hope to communicate respect in this post and hope that it would be replied to with the same for a more productive conversation. I would also like to state that this question is putting religious views aside for the sake of argument. I’ll start with the bottom line questions and then give a more full explaination of why I’m asking.

    Bottom Line Questions: What if the concept of a fetus not possessing the qualities that deem it “alive” is wrong? What if tomorrow scientists find whatever evidence at this point is missing and officially prove that there is “life” before birth? Would it not be prudent, if we are to err, to err on the side of life? What would be a good explaination by a pro-choice person as to why there is no fear of making a horrible mistake in judging when life begins?

    Here is why I ask. When Roe V Wade was first decided, we didn’t know alot about what went on inside the womb. Many of our mothers never had a sonogram and those that did, couldn’t read it because it was so fuzzy not much could be made out. But, as science does, we’ve had some pretty considerable advancements in our knowledge of the developing fetus. Just to name a few we’ve discovered that it dreams, has facial expressions, laughs, “practice” breaths (fluid instead of air), sleeps, plays, starts heart and brain development VERY early in the pregnancy, typically very active and responsive to pain and pleasure.

    Also, as far as viability goes, because of our advances in technology, pre-mature babies are able to survive at earlier and earlier stages. In addition, if viability is a deciding factor, how viable is a newborn? Or a person with extreme disabilities? How are they different from a fetus other than one is on the inside of the womb and the other is on the outside?

    All this to say, it would seem evident that the removal of a fetus is simply not the same as removing a mole. Can we at least agree that the fetus certainly possesses, at the very least, evidences of life? Which returns me to my original question, if the status of the life of the fetus is unknown, why not take percautions to preserve it, or at least the potential for it?

    I’ll illustrate this another way. During 9/11 people were digging for survivors past the likely time of survival. Why? Because, though small, there was still a chance someone was trapped under the rubble alive. As long as there was still a chance for life, people were going to continue to try and save it/preserve it. I’m having trouble understanding why it would be so horrible to treat the fetus with the same attitude.

    I would agree to an abortion if the mother’s life were at stake, if the pregnancy was the result of incest or rape. Which by the way, is the policy of a lot of religiously affiliated hospitals.

    I ask this because, everytime I see debate on the issue, the pro-choice side seems to completely avoid the entire basis of the pro-life argument and starts screaming about women’s rights. I am a woman. I like rights. However, I simply would like my choices in this matter to be guided in light of there being more than one life to consider. That I am making decisions for two lives, not just my own. My body is no longer my body alone once I concieve. I’m sharing it with another human being who possesses rights of their own, and since that life cannot yet speak for itself, it is my responsibility as well as the government’s duty to protect it and ensure life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

    My issue with abortion does not include abortions made for medical reasons or in the case of incest or rape. My issue of abortions done outside of absolute necessity is that, with such evidences of life, it seems that we risk living with an awful concequence of one day knowing that we destroyed millions of lives one day. Sort of like how we now have to deal with the fact that we enslaved millions of lives pre-civil war. We(as a nation/government) once thought those lives weren’t legitamate and we all now know we were severely mistaken. Ultimately, I guess I’m just saying, let’s not chance making that mistake again.

    Again, I sincerely want to know your reasoning on this particular issue of the argument. Calling me names, cursing me out, or making fun of my spelling errors does not make you more right or contribute to the converstation. I’m just trying to understand.

  42. Any time someone starts villifying abortion, my attention turns to that person and what the hell they’re covering up. What in God’s name have you done that you want to talk about someone else’s abortion? What have you done in your past that you want to draw the attention to this ridiculous and polarizing issue? How many children have you had? Did you want them all? Did you ever have sex without conceiving? How many times? Do you resent having all your children? Do you resent not using birth control? Have you miscarried? Are you ashamed you yourself had a forced abortion?

    All you anti-abortion fanatics are so transparent it’s like watching a seventh grade spin the bottle game.

  43. Pingback: Rick Santorum’s Wife’s Abortion Doesn’t Count « U.S. of ConservAtism

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  46. I’m glad that I am not God. This is not a situation that is black and white. I am pro life, but I can also say that this is a situation that obviously couldn’t be answered with just a “yes or no…” They did have a choice and they did make a choice… it is obvious that it wasn’t an easy one. It was a heart-breaking story. I did have a miscarriage at the age of 16, I was so young. I started cramping and bleeding and my body passed a soft mass after missing just one monthly cycle. I didn’t do anything to cause it, it just spontaneously happened. I beleive it was from stress and guilt from being raped… But it broke my heart none the less. I would have kept the baby and loved it to matter what even though I was very imature. But God saw fit not to stop what happened, I think because of the circumstances. God is called our “Heavenly Father…” and only He has the wisdom to sit in judgement… And He knows what is best. I placed myself in a dangerous situation and reaped the consequences, yet God did not leave me to suffer alone. He was wonderful and forgave me, and I learned from my mistake. I am a happily married mother of 38 years and have 2 natural sons and an adopted son. God truely provided! About the Santorums, Maybe by the grace of God they can learn that God is all seeing and is the only rightful Judge… and also maybe we can see by our kind or cruel words and jabs… whether we are fit to mount the seat of Judgement that He, God, sits upon. In a case such as theirs… I hope sincerely that all might be given the wisdom to make the choice God would have them make and may the best good come from that choice. I don’t want to seem a prude and probably I am not politically correct, and I am a woman, mind you, but perhaps their wouldn’t be so many unwanted pregnancies, if we abstained until we were more mature and knew ourselves better and what we really wanted out of life… we could avoid some of these decisions and choices that cause the death of children and so much grief and social problems and battles. I wish I had a better comment for all of you , but let me close by saying, ” To whom mercy is shown… that same mercy will will return back toward you…”I pray for wisdom to these problems that are not always black and white, if we must err… let us err on the side of mercy. I pray for God’s choice and His will in my life, and claim and accept His forgiveness for my mistakes and errs. And readers, I pray that for you as well. God bless you. Sincerely.

  47. We’re talking about Rick Scrotum’s wife ? Come on people. Rick Scrotum is a billionaire’s mouthpiece. He has as much chance to President as my puppy.

    Let’s all just hope that he becomes the Republican nominee. That would be FABULOUS!!!. Ultra-gay FABULOUS. I would love that. Almost as much as Obama. Why don’t they just gift him a second term and save the money.

  48. Not taking any sides here ,just clarifying something from a pure medical viewpoint.When a woman goes through premature delivery of a fetus that dies ,upon delivery it is called spontaneous abortion and that goes on the chart….If a fetus is born alive ,even if it dies shortly after it is called premature delivery.If a woman requires a procedure to terminate a pregnancy due to complications with her health or the fetus’s death,it is called therapeutic abortion.If a women chooses to abort a fetus it is called a medically induced abortion.Unless something has changed these were the terms used for the 27 years I worked as a nurse.

  49. There are just too many variable for anyone to make this decision for anyone else. That’s the point here. Whether it rape, health, finance, or defect, how can anyone make such a choice for someone else’s life, you can’t. This country needs empathy, respect, and understanding for each other. No one is more important or more valuable. These decisions are very difficult and private, but every woman, her partner and/or family should have the right to make them for themselves.

  50. Pingback: one more in the school of ‘my abortion is the only right abortion’ | It's About Time

  51. If the Santorums really didn’t want to “play God” (as pro-life activists are so fond of saying) they would have left the fetus alone and let nature take its course. The invasive surgery they chose to “save” the child had a high risk of killing both mother and baby and they knew that. Someone who truly valued life in all instances would not consent to such a procedure.

  52. Ending a pregnancy to save the life of the mother is always allowed, even in the Catholic Church. Don’t confuse this with the convenience of the mother or birth control. It is a totally different situation. Thus, the only time ending a pregnancy is permitted. I am completely pro-life and I know this to be a fact. Check it out.

  53. I agree with the commenter that said life and death choices are complex and should be left between the family and the doctor. I think a lot of these situations are analogous to pulling the plug on a loved one, which is a decision that a family and a doctor makes, not the government. This stereotype of the “whore” who thinks nothing of getting abortion after abortion simply isn’t true, yet it’s what drives most of the policy around abortion.

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