Rick Santorum's Anti-Abortion Politics Would Have Killed His Own Wife [Updated]

Let's get down to brass tacks: Presidential candidate Rick Santorum, Personhood Pledge-signing, Griswold vs. Connecticut-opposing, Mr. Ban Abortion in All Circumstances With No Exception for the Life of the Mother, believes that the actions of his own wife should be treated as criminal. Why? Because, back in 1996, his wife had a procedure that resulted in the deliberate death of her fetus, even though it was a matter of saving her own life.

Karen Santorum's difficult pregnancy and resultant life-saving, induced early delivery is no secret; in a 2004 interview with NPR's Terry Gross, her husband characterized the 1996 procedure as a harrowing but necessary. Karen, in her 19th week of pregnancy, received a risky surgery to save a pregnancy that doctors thought had little chance of survival. After the surgery, she came down with an infection, and doctors told Rick that unless the source of the infection — the fetus — was removed, his wife would die and his already-born children would be motherless. The doctor also told Santorum that his wife's fetus would not survive outside of the womb. According to Santorum, Karen went into labor as a result of the antibiotics, and then doctors gave her a drug that further induced labor. She delivered, and unfortunately the doctors were right.

Shortly after Santorum first talked to the press about his wife's pregnancy and their subsequent loss, rumors began circulating that Karen had actually had an abortion rather than induced delivery. Our Silver Ribbon goes so far as to assert that Karen Santorum did, in fact, have a second-trimester abortion.

But whether or not Karen Santorum had an abortion or medically induced the birth of a non-viable fetus shouldn't matter in the eyes of someone with views as extreme as Santorum, as he is one of a disturbingly large group of politicians who believe that women should not be allowed to abort under any circumstances. Santorum's even against abortion if there were no hope of the fetus surviving to full term, or even if the woman carrying the fetus risked death doing so. Karen Santorum would have died if the fetus were not removed, and labor was induced and not halted knowing that the fetus would not survive. How is this not technically "abortion?" In Santorum's world, it would probably qualify as infanticide.

The hairsplitting debate over whether Karen Santorum had an abortion only serves to expose the ridiculousness of Rick Santorum's extremism. In his view, it's absolutely not okay for a woman to have doctors remove her life-threatening pregnancy for her, but it is okay for a woman to deliver a fetus well before viability so that the child can die slowly, in open air, as the Good Lord intended? Or is it just not okay for everyone who doesn't happen to be Rick Santorum's wife?

As Rick Santorum gains ground in the polls and commentators increasingly speak of him as if he's not a dangerous, raving zealot, please do remember that Karen Santorum's lifesaving medical intervention is different than the abortions that Santorum wishes to outlaw only in that the woman getting the lifesaving medical intervention was Karen Santorum. His policies would prevent other women from receiving the care they needed, and leave scores of non-Santorum children motherless. If that's not hypocrisy, then I don't know what is.

Update: There's debate regarding the specifics of Karen Santorum's procedure; some professionals, none of whom actually treated her, say that her labor was not induced, but spontaneous. Whether or not this is the case, the point remains the same: Rick Santorum's stance on abortion would have killed his wife. Had she not gone into spontaneous labor, she would need an abortion (or induced labor of a nonviable fetus) to save her life — and Santorum's politics wouldn't have let that happen.

Santorum: Our Abortion was Different [Our Silver Ribbon]