Here in the New York area, there's been almost nonstop coverage of the terrible Christmas Day house fire in Stamford, Connecticut, in which three young children and their grandparents died when a family friend staying at the house threw out a bag of fireplace ashes and either left them in a mud room or put it outside too close to the house. Mostly I find myself wondering about the children's parents, and how you go on after something like this.
A friend of mine is approaching the sixthanniversary of her own young adult daughter's passing and it is always a difficult time for her. When this happened, another colleague of ours said to me, "You can't possibly know what it's like because you don't have children." And I replied, "Neither can you, because you're going to go home tonight and tuck your children into bed, alive and well." I don't think anyone can know what it's like to lose a child unless you've experienced it. Those of us who can empathize with the feelings of others can get a sense of the helplessness and the gaping hole in one's life that occurs, and we can help by just being there and let the person who experienced the loss talk -- or not talk -- and take our cues from them. But one thing my friend never expected anyone to do was have more children just because she lost one.
Another friend had three miscarriages before she finally got a dog -- and then carried her first child to term. She desperately wanted children, but not once while she was going through all this did she demand that I have a baby because she had lost three pregnancies.
And yet, Rick Santorum wants to be president so that he can turn women into baby factories -- because he once lost an infant son
Then, in 1996, when he was a freshman senator, his wife, Karen, delivered a child when she was just 20 weeks pregnant. The baby, a boy they named Gabriel, died after two hours. This 1998 article
“That’s when I noticed a marked difference in Rick,” said Robert Traynham, who spent 10 years as a Santorum aide. “He became much more philosophical, much more deeply religious. You could tell; he was walking with his faith.”
That experience helped deepen Mr. Santorum’s opposition to abortion, and he went on to become one of Washington’s most outspoken cultural warriors. He prodded Congress to outlaw the procedure known as partial-birth abortion, broke with a Republican president, George W. Bush, over embryonic stem cell research and pushed for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, insisting that it is “right for children to have moms and dads.”
by Joe Klein in The New Yorker
tells you what this Oh Poor Ricky article doesn't about this event in the Santorums' life. Unfortunately, the magazine digitizes the actual pages, and I'm not able to transcribe the relevant passages, but here's an abstract of what happened:
His wife Karen was at that time 18 weeks pregnant and they were concerned about the health of the fetus. When they went for a routine 5-month sonogram, they discovered that their baby was suffering from a minuscule but almost invariably fatal condition; the baby's posterior urethral valve was malfunctioning and his bladder wasn't emptying. The Santorums went to Philadelphia to undergo a procedure where a plastic shunt was inserted into the baby's bladder and used to channel the fetal urine into the womb. Initially the outcome looked good, but Karen soon suffered an infection from the operation, and she went into premature labor. The Santorums decided against aborting their baby. For Rick and Karen Santorum, the birth of their premature son, Gabriel Michael, on October 11, 1996, confirmed their beliefs about partial-birth abortion; the idea that the state might condone violence against this tiny but undeniably human creature seemed impossibly barbaric. Their baby died 2 hours after birth.
What ISN'T in the abstract is the following:
The Santorums, and especially the Senator, have difficulty talking about what they would have done if Karen hadn't gone into labor -- if her life had been threatened. "There are cases where, for the life of the mother, you have to end a pregnancy early," Santorum said, steering away from the particular. "But that does not necessarily mean having an abortion. You can induce labor, using a drug like pitocin. After twenty weeks, doctors say, abortion is twice as risky as childbirth. If there's a real emergency, you can do a caesarean section. But in no case is it necessary to kill the baby and then deliver it."
Forget for a moment about the idea that Rick Santorum should be able to tell not just women, but also doctors, what is necessary and what isn't from a medical standpoint. The reality is that the Santorums experienced a highly traumatic incident in their lives -- the end of a much-wanted pregnancy -- and ever since Rick Santorum has been trying to deal with his loss by trying to force women to have children they don't want. I can empathize with the Santorums' sense of loss, but that doesn't give them the right to enact policy based on their own narrow experience.
Our last three presidents have all had flawed administrations because of primal childhood issues. Bill Clinton dealt with the sense of abandonment caused by his biological father's death by wanting to be loved by everyone. George W. Bush wanted both his father's approval and to emerge from the older man's shadow by proving that he's a bigger man (in every sense) than his father. Barack Obama deals with a life spent trying to be nonthreatening in his white grandparents' world by attempting to placata racists and bigots who will never, ever accept him. The last thing we need is yet another president attempting to resolve his emotional issues on a national stage.
Labels: abortion, Rick Santorum, The Republican War on Women