Rick and Karen Santorum's Legal Abortion

This story has been told before, but due to his presidential candidacy it's important to repeat the fact that Rick and Karen Santorum had an abortion to save Karen's life.

In the 19th week of her pregnancy, Karen discovered during a routine exam that the fetus she was carrying had a fatal defect and was going to die inside of her. A long-shot surgery was performed that required cutting directly into the womb. It carried a high risk of infection and was performed not to save the fetus, but to reduce Karen’s complications while she attempted to go full term.

Two days later, she became severely feverish. She was rushed to the hospital and placed on intravenous antibiotics, which reduced her fever and bought her some time, but could not eliminate the source of infection: the fetus.

Karen was going to die if her pregnancy was not ended, if the fetus was not removed from her body. So, at 20 weeks, one month before what doctors consider ‘viability’, labor was artificially induced and the infected fetus was delivered. It died shortly thereafter.

This is technically an abortion. A tragic and terrible event in anyone's life. And in the case of the Santorums, thank goodness it was legal -- especially for a late term pregnancy. Now Rick Santorum wants to tell you, your wife, your daughter, or your friend that she should die to save the life of the fetus. You know, because they're "pro-life."

  • muselet

    I wasn’t going to comment on this story (Rick Santorum is a hypocrite about abortion, dog bites man, water is wet), but let’s not forget, as previously reported here, Santorum’s recent comment with regards to a late-term abortion ban:

    They wanted a health exception, which of course is a phony exception which would make the ban ineffective. –Rick Santorum, Tuesday June 7, 2011

    An exception to an abortion ban to protect the life of a pregnant woman is “a phony exception,” according to Rick Santorum—unless it’s Santorum’s wife whose life is endangered, in which case the rules just … change. How terribly convenient.

    Words cannot express the contempt I feel for Rick Santorum.


    • And again, his wife gets to have a say in what happens but no one else’s wife gets to be heard. I really think this goes back to the arrogant thinking at the base of Christianism in this country. Since they believe with all their tiny, cold hearts they merit God’s special attention and protection and sinners do not, they get to do things sinners cannot. This righteous arrogance allows them to believe they can do as they please, but everyone else by golly had better follow the rules. I say if there is really a Hell, these folks will be front and center.

      • muselet

        I’d suggest it’s more a lack of empathy. Rick Santorum would never in a million years have prevented his wife from having labor induced, and if another woman he knows went through an experience similar to his wife’s but was induced, he’d almost certainly think that she did nothing wrong. However, he’s unwilling—no, scratch that, he’s unable—to generalize and allow (subtle emphasis on that word) women he doesn’t know the same autonomy. He doesn’t trust them to make the right decision because he doesn’t know them; therefore, they must follow rigid rules and jump through hoops.


        • I don’t disagree at all. But the point that I was making wasn’t from Santorum’s perspective. As a woman, I want to know her perspective. I thought it was fascinating that she assumed she had the power to choose. But then obediently accepts her husbands evil stance against choice during his campaign. I’m looking into her cognitive dissonance, not his.

          The reason this matters to me is because about 3 mos before I became pregnant with Liam, I had a miscarriage and I had to have a D&C. I was afraid at the time that I wouldn’t be given the choice to have one in Arizona. Naturally and medically I could have waited to see what my body did on its own to get rid of the poor angel who had died (I can’t call it a fetus, it was my little angel, liberal though I am). Technically it was a spontaneous abortion at 7 weeks due to a genetic defect.

          In any case, I was given the choice to let my body take control and wait and see. There were two outcomes, it would clear itself out but last several weeks if not months and be very emotionally and physically taxing or if my body didn’t do what it was supposed to, I would develop an infection and be very, very sick. So I the option of a quick outpatient D&C and be back at work within 24 hours…..Since I was the only one working and my body never behaves in ways it is supposed to, I chose the D&C

          I simply thought it was ironic, that the wife of a very religious and conservative politician assumed she has that option, that right; whereas, I, a liberal and devout agnostic, assumed I did not. I find that absolutely fascinating coupled with her husband’s public stance on abortion.

          • muselet

            The good Xtianist wife must be in submission to her husband, so it’s ultimately his decision. She would have had a say, but he would have made the final decision. Sad, sick, infantilizing, call it what you will, but it’s part of the package. That’s what I was getting at, if insufficiently clearly.

            Conservatives, cultural conservatives specifically, seem to lack empathy. I have no idea if Karen Santorum does or not, but five bucks says she’s as bad as her husband. Change the gender of the pronouns in what I wrote and you’ll probably have a pretty accurate description of her mindset: women she doesn’t know can’t be trusted to make the right decision.

            Abortion is sometimes a woman’s least bad option, and I’m not picking on Karen Santorum when I point out that she knows this. So does every conservative woman whose teenaged daughter misses her period (and her boyfriend stops taking her calls, imagine that). They know they can be trusted with important decisions, but none of them can bring themselves to think of strangers as rational, autonomous beings because of that lack of empathy.

            I know and have known women who have had abortions and none of them have done so rashly or for foolish reasons. Even if that weren’t true, though, I would never dream of treating them as anything other than full persons, and I would never dream of treating any other woman as anything other than a full person.

            As a man, I will never know what it’s like to be pregnant, and I will never know what it’s like to have to make (or even ponder) the decision to terminate a pregnancy. And as such, I know I am not entitled to an opinion on those issues; I know my place, if I may be glib. I am, alas, something of an anomaly in this, which is why too many women have to worry about whether they will have access to necessary medical procedures, something you have experienced personally (for what it’s worth, I offer you my sympathies).

            There may be a point somewhere to be found in these ramblings, though I don’t guarantee it (hey, it’s late and I’m tired).


          • Alo, you’re point is extremely well written and I thank you for taking the time to respond in such a detailed manner. You are absolutely right in regards the attitude of these women. I have found that the worst opponents to feminism are not the men, but the women who have bought into the myth of their own subjugation. I think we agree that Santorum’s wife must be of this ilk. How could she be otherwise with a husband like that? One could almost pity her if not for the damage she does to her own sisters. Women do need to stick together so we could rule the world. Not to say we’d do a better job, but that we have different a power of our own, different from male power. But then again, maybe I”m deluded and power corrupts women as much as it does men. I think both Bachmann and Palin are examples of that! Right? Awww, screw it….gender be damned. That’s where we need to get to….the absence of gender bias. Alas, I think I am yet dreaming……

            🙂 Good night felow Cescaites.

  • Okay. DONE with this.

    Karen and Rick Santorum have said that they did not induce labor. However, Karen Santorum said she would have induced labor if it were necessary.
    From Santorum’s account of her second trimester pregnancy, by Steve Goldstein, Philadelphia Inquirer, May 4, 1997:

    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.


    So, according to the Santorums’ themselves, it was purportedly not induced. However, Karen Santorum admits she would have allowed it to be induced if necessary, thus making a choice that Rick Santorum seeks to deny to other women.

    Indeed, if he has his way, abortion will be criminalized, and the same procedure that Karen had will not be available.

    Adding……also of note……

    Karen and Rick Santorum okayed the surgery on Karen and the fetus, which resulted in the fetus’ infection. This surgery was NOT to save the fetus, it was to save Karen, and again, it resulted in causing an infection in the fetus.

    • The admission that they *would have* induced is enough to show up Santorum as a hypocrite of the highest degree. I don’t know how they can hold these stances with any kind of conscience. 🙁 I also read the link you posted earlier, Nicole, on the ‘only moral abortion’. I am so sad that so much of our society is dominated by such judgmental and hypocritical people.

      • AND the other point to be made about her admission, is that Santorum’s wife actually felt that she had a say in the matter. In fact, I would guess that she assumed she would have a say in the matter of whether labor was induced that would lead to the definite end of the fetus life AND that her husband would go along with it. Yet Santorum now says that women don’t get to have a say in such a procedure. He wants to take away their input, the very input his wife assumed she would have back then. The irony is thick enough to choke on.

  • The original story appears to have come from an article by Karen Santorum which was printed in Family Circle magazine in 1997. From a notice to NOW activists, written in Nov. 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 .

    The implication is pretty clear that Karen Santorum had a partial-birth abortion or a late term abortion (1 month from viability in her case)


    Still looking for more info.

    • You, my dear Nicole, are something else. 🙂

      • lol. is that good or bad?? 🙂

        I just like to make sure that we get the facts straight, and since Amy questioned the inducement aspect, I did some research. Really, I should have just done a post on my own damn blog, lol.

  • Relevant to this story is “The Only Moral Abortion is My Abortion” http://mypage.direct.ca/w/writer/anti-tales.html

  • I hate to sound like I’m making light of someone else’s plight, but it is ironic how opinions can change, however temporarily, when it’s you in the crosshairs. I’m glad the Santorums had the latitude to make the decision they did. That Santorum now advocates criminalizing abortion for any reason shows me that he lacks even the basic ability to empathize with someone who may be in similar circumstances.

    When oh when will these so-called Christian wingnuts get it that Jesus was serious when he instructed us to help those less fortunate than us rather than throw them under the bus? Santorum (and, by extension, those who agree with him) is living the antithesis of a Christian life.

    Not living a Christian life, of course, is a choice each of us is free to make. However, if you gloss yourself an upstanding, family values Christian, especially when you make that your vehicle for convincing people that you’re somehow better than them, that choice simply makes you a hypocrite. Then again, hypocrisy seems never to bother the GOP any more…

  • This story is very, very true and also very creepy. The Santorum’s don’t consider what they had an “abortion” (imagine that). But here’s the really creepy part:

    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.


    They brought the dead fetes home, laid with it and even had their young children “cuddle” it. It reminds me of the “fetus jar” collection Barbara Bush talked about. The people are twisted in the head!

  • Dood_Ah

    Gah! Yet another reason I can’t stand these harpy bible beaters. Death for everyone else but his wife.

  • I believe I read on spreadingsantorum.com a different account – that labor was not artificially induced, but rather she went into early labor on her own, and they simply helped to speed it up since her life was in peril. If true, that would be a miscarriage rather than an abortion, no? (I can’t believe my only two posts here have been defending Santorum – wtf is wrong with me? I honestly can’t stand the guy, but as a pregnant lady myself, I do see a distinction in the stories if the spreadingsantorum version is true.)

    • Medically, a miscarriage is known as a “spontaneous abortion”.

    • Karen Santorum had what is commonly called a “partial birth abortion”.


      Adding…..the person who wrote the spreadingsantorum post apparently was unable to find anything which substantiates that the birth was induced. Considering that she is the only one questioning this fact, and that it happened in 1997, I would not give her too much credence since all stories I’ve read point to induced/partial birth abortion.

      • I believe that the original story came from the New Yorker archives. I just paid for access to the entire story, and as soon as I can get in and read it, I’ll post about it.

    • The only thing more jawdropping than this level of hypocrisy is the fact that people actually vote for it. 🙁

  • Robert Burns

    Not defending Santorum, but what is the source of this information?

    • muselet

      Follow the link. Sources are provided there. Ultimately, the information about Karen Santorum’s abortion comes from the Santorums themselves.


  • Abortions are not always “tragic and terrible”.
    Not saying it’s a reason for celebration, but there’s no reason to assert that it’s either terrible or tragic in every case. In fact, it doesn’t require much imagination to come up with a long list of situations where it’s to be preferred.

    • Yet Santorum advocates criminalizing abortion.

  • ainsleyroad

    Thanks for sharing, Bob. I’ve put it on my facebook. Spread the word, folks.