There's a story going around on the net that Rick Santorum's wife had an abortion. I heard it from a friend on Facebook. But it's not true.
Of course, I think the Republicans are frequently terrible hypocrites, but something about this claim rang alarm bells of skepticism for me. If this episode from the fall of 1996 had really been known and covered in the press since 1997, wouldn't it have been well aired earlier? Santorum didn't become a first tier candidate until Iowa, true, but it's a perfect juicy story that our dysfunctional media would have loved to gossip over incessantly.
Turns out Karen Santorum had a second trimester miscarriage in a pregnancy that was doomed by a deleterious birth defect:
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.Rick and Karen Santorum were willing to choose a medical path that nearly killed her. We can never know whether craven political calculation entered into their decision - well, his decision, since she was not cogent when the decision was made.
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.
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.
There's a whiff of hypocrisy here, but only a whiff. The Santorums, despite their ardent beliefs about proper behavior from the rest of us, were willing to consider inducing labor to save her life at the expense of the fetus:
"If that had to be the call, we would have induced labor if we had to," the senator said as he sat in his Washington office. "I consider it a blessing that we didn't have to make that decision."While I give Rick props for admitting this, his inability to learn a bit of humility on the subject despite his open suggestion of god's hand in sparing them a hard decision is troubling. It doesn't sound moral to me to find a narrow exception that just happens to fit one's own principles without considering whether those principles are sound or, after this experience, merely convenient.
The meta-message: One of the most damaging aspects of the wingnut approach to national narrative is their complete unwillingness to give up stories they like because those stories are false. Those of us in the reality-based community are obligated not to follow their dishonest example and instead to abjure any propagandist's propagation of this bullshit.