On the Road to 2012: An Exclusive Interview with Karen Santorum
In 2008, Rick and Karen welcomed little Isabella to their family. Just four days after her birth, they got the devastating news that Bella has Trisomy 18, a rare and usually fatal genetic disease. Since that moment, they have intensely battled our culture of death, protecting their daughter from being euthanized and fighting for her medical care. Most doctors urge women to abort babies with genetic diseases, and many such infants are euthanized after birth in order to "relieve their suffering."
Listen to Karen talk about Bella, and you'll hear one word over and over: blessing. Rick and Karen want the whole world to know the joy they've found in their sweet angel.
KS: After having Bella I had to relearn how to live my life. Now I'm a blessed mother of a special-needs child. Since her birth, I've learned that God truly has a reason for everything. Like every one of us, God has a purpose for her. Bella has made all of us grow in our faith like never before, made us more virtuous and shown us God's love and mercy. Her life is a very happy and joyful life. Bella is an angel. I truly believe I am in the care of a saint.
We are so blessed to be her parents and her family. Yes, there's also a painful side of the journey because you're fighting for her life, to have her treated with the same dignity as every other child.
JH: What would you say to those facing the possibility of a child with Trisomy 18 and wondering whether they can handle it? Maybe a woman tempted to abort a baby she is convinced will only know suffering?
KS: It doesn't make any sense to me that we choose death over love. You never lose with love. It's never made any sense that when a doctor says your child has whatever defect, he then says "let's kill the baby." If the doctor said that about your five year-old you'd be outraged! As parents we're wired to do everything possible to save our child. Why does that not apply to these sweet babies in the womb who need our love and care? Just simply bring your child into the world and love your child. You don't know what God has planned.
Bella is the greatest "burden" I've ever had. I wouldn't trade the blessings that have come with her for anything in the world.
JH: Is it safe to say that special-needs children and their parents will have a fierce advocate in the White House under President Santorum?
KS: Oh, absolutely! I have a real fire in the belly about this issue. It's heartbreaking what these families go through. I was a NICU nurse for years and I thought I understood, but in fact, I was clueless. Now I know; now I get it. Until you're in it every day, you just don't know.
I'm on a mission to get every obstetrician and geneticist in the country to change the way they think and especially the way they talk about genetic diseases like Trisomy 18. When a doctor says your child has a "lethal diagnosis" that is "incompatible with life" - those words are toxic. Those words lead to death. Doctors need to stop saying those words.
I can't tell you how many battles we've fought with doctors who wouldn't even call Bella by her name. These children are denied the dignity they deserve as human beings. Parents should not have to fight for their children to receive medical care. This is why it's critical that we get rid of Obamacare. Special-needs kids will be seen as lives not worth living and they'll be the first to go.
We're grateful that Bella now has a good team of doctors who take great care of her and she's doing great! I love Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Other hospitals we've been to didn't even want to try to give Bella the care or help she needed - she wasn't worth it to them. At CHP, their philosophy is, "Just give the babies a chance." Amen!
JH: Years before Bella was born, you and Rick experienced a "crisis pregnancy" and you lost your son, Gabriel.* Again, you battled the culture of death. It was the same time Rick was fighting in the U.S. Senate to pass the Partial-birth Abortion Ban. You were living exactly the scenario the abortion peddlers point to as proof that we "need" abortion.
KS: Before Gabriel we always had picture-perfect pregnancies. Then to have a baby with a fatal defect - that's how the doctors say it - right at the time of the Partial-birth abortion debate, that was no coincidence. God blessed us with the gift of "why." As though He said, "Here's why I'm doing this." We saw the fruits of our son's life and the significance of it.
- - -
Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Rick Santorum, Karen Santorum, Presidency, campaign, 2012 election, Republican candidates, Pro-Life, Pro-Family, Jennifer Hartline
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