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April 18, 2005

Santorum, fetus fondler

Looks like the old fetus fondler is making a bid for mainstream cred. Today's Knight Ridder profile is full of gems like these:

Santorum is already accused of trying to move to the left on such issues as the death penalty and the minimum wage.

(If by "to the left" you mean i) only supporting the death penalty for very bad murderers, ii) favoring the abolition of the minimum wage for millions of workers, while gutting overtime, the 40-hour week, and the American tradition of working for wages instead of tips...)

Pennsylvania political analysts Terry Madonna and Michael Young contend that Santorum has a "penchant to talk conservative but vote pragmatist," citing his strong social-conservative views but his votes to support pork-barrel appropriations, an increase in the minimum wage, and support for antipoverty legislation.

Not so conservative

The National Journal's analysis of key U.S. Senate votes in 2004 showed that Santorum was not among that body's 15 most conservative members.

Is Santorum Moving to the Middle? asks Jeff Miller of Mcall.com.

Even NewsMax notices that there's something about Ricky...

But Santorum will never metamorphose from an ugly embryonic duckling to a graceful senatorial swan unless he lays off the fetus talk.

Father First, Senator Second For Rick Santorum, Politics Could Hardly Get More Personal
Monday, April 18, 2005; Page C01

In his Senate office, on a shelf next to an autographed baseball, Sen. Rick Santorum keeps a framed photo of his son Gabriel Michael, the fourth of his seven children. Named for two archangels, Gabriel Michael was born prematurely, at 20 weeks, on Oct. 11, 1996, and lived two hours outside the womb.

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.

"That's my little guy," Santorum says, pointing to the photo of Gabriel, in which his tiny physique is framed by his father's hand. The senator often speaks of his late son in the present tense. It is a rare instance in which he talks softly.

He and Karen brought Gabriel's body home so their children could "absorb and understand that they had a brother," Santorum says. "We wanted them to see that he was real," not an abstraction, he says. Not a "fetus," either, as Rick and Karen were appalled to see him described -- "a 20-week-old fetus" -- on a hospital form. They changed the form to read "20-week-old baby."

Hey kids, meet your (former) baby brother!

Santorum really gets a kick out of showing fetuses to other people's children, too:

The issue came up again the following spring. Santorum, a Pennsylvania Republican, appeared on the Senate floor with oversize illustrations of fetuses in various stages of delivery. He described the process by which a physician "brutally kills" a child "by thrusting a pair of scissors into the back of its skull and suctioning its brains out." He asked that a 5-year-old girl be admitted to the visitors' gallery, though Senate rules forbid children under 6. "She is very interested in the subject," Santorum said, explaining that the girl's mother had been a candidate for a late-term abortion when doctors advised her during her pregnancy that the child was unlikely to survive.

Some Christians like to handle snakes, others prefer the born-unborn. Santorum's brand of Catholicism is downright animist where fetuses are concerned:

But a mention of Gabriel always cools his head of steam. He points to the silver angel pin he wears on his lapel in tribute. Gabriel, Santorum says, "fundamentally affirmed how I see the humanity of the child in a womb." Gabriel reinforced his faith, "an affirmation that what I was doing was right."

He often speaks of the "coincidences" that occurred during Karen's pregnancy with Gabriel. "It struck me that if God is into sending messages, then I was getting some," Santorum says.

He recalls the meeting in which Karen's doctor raised the option of abortion. "We were in one of these little rooms, and it had one of those lights with a timer on it." As soon as the word "abortion" escaped the doctor's mouth, the light in the office went off. "It was eerie," he says, "really eerie."

Sitting in his office, Santorum reads a passage from "Letters to Gabriel" about an episode that occurred during the late-term-abortion debate in 1996. "This is not a blob of tissue," Santorum says, quoting from his own speech. "It's a baby. It's a baby." At which point, the book says, the sound of a baby crying was heard on the Senate floor.

"A coincidence?" Santorum reads, enunciating Karen's words. "Perhaps. A visitor's baby was crying just as the door to the floor of the Senate was opened, or closed. Or maybe it was the cry from the son whose voice we never heard, but whose life has forever changed ours."

Apparently fetus-fondling was a transformative experience for Senator Santorum. Julia has a copy of an old interview with Santorum in which he admits that he and his wife would have aborted Gabriel if the pregnancy had threatened Mrs. Santorum's life. Odd that Santorum's partial birth abortion ban didn't contain any exemption for the life of the mother.

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Comments

There's something icky about Ricky.

(If by "to the left" you mean i) only supporting the death penalty for very bad murderers, ii) favoring the abolition of the minimum wage for millions of workers, while gutting overtime, and the 40 hour week...)

Sadly, this is, in fact, what passes for "left" with respect to American political discourse.

This is the creepiest thing I've ever heard.

I'm no Rick fan, but "fetus fondler" is a pretty uncool way to discuss such a tragic loss.

If you think it was inappropriate or simply gross to grieve the way he did, then say so - don't lightly toss an insult like that.

First Atrios and now over here.

A twenty month old fetus is right on the very edge of viability.

If you have ever been in a critical care nursery, you know that the Santorums went through the experience of their very own little baby dying right in front of them.

While I don't agree with Santorum on practically any matter of politics, I really do wish this one could have been passed by out of respect and decency.

Senator and Mrs. Santorum turned Gabriel into a political football, and they've been lobbing him around since 1996. It's friggin' indecent and they deserve all the derision they get.

If they really thought of Gabriel as their dead child instead of their mascot, they probably wouldn't still be giving maudlin interviews almost ten years after the fact.

"I really do wish this one could have been passed by out of respect and decency."

Wetzel, why have we heard about this incident at all?

Isn't the answer very plainly: "because Santorum has been publicizing for his own political ends"?

Now THAT'S creepy . . .

I don't want to be insensitive about it, but the contrast between how Santorum handles this and how John Edwards handles questions about the death of his oldest son could not be greater. I'm sure Santorum is fully convinced himself that he speaks of Gabriel only to save other children, but for all that, I find it at some level really manipulative and disturbing.

Ricky took the gloves off first. He wants to parade his dead baby (I shiver to the core at the thought of that tragic loss) like a flag, we should talk about it. Especialy as this asshole wants to fuck with our reproductive rights. Rickys one of the folks who has helped send most of our manufacturing jobs overseas calls it growth when a few million more bottom paying no benifit jobs are created and fuck over everyone who gets one of those jobs. Ricky took the gloves off first the fetus fondling fuck.

I'm no Rick fan, but "fetus fondler" is a pretty uncool way to discuss such a tragic loss.

Fuck that.

This has nothing to do with the fact that his 'baby' died ... it's that HE FUCKING BROUGHT THE THING HOME WITH HIM TO TAKE ITS PICTURE AND SHOW IT TO HIS OTHER KIDS !!!

That is fucking SICK and WEIRD and WRONG and CREEPY.


Senator and Mrs. Santorum turned Gabriel into a political football, and they've been lobbing him around since 1996

What's funny about this is when I read it, I got an image of them tossing around the actual fetus as if it were a football ...

Santorum and his family have a right to treat their experience in whatever way they need to, to constellate onto the events in their lives some meaning and significance and narrative that informs who they are. But when that shitstain wants to force everybody to endure the decision he would have made, taking away our right to deal with the reality of biology and its messiness in whichever way makes sense to each of us as individuals, I just want to spit in his face.

Whether a Michael Gabriel at 20 weeks is a fetus or a baby is a matter of the emotional investment made by the parents; personhood status is not an intrinsic property as Santorum would have it codified into law.

I'm a parent, with a healthy little boy. We lost his older brother in a full term stillbirth and we'll never get over that anguish. As rational agnostics, we're relieved that we have no religious baggage; mammals, especially humans, cannot count on the certainty of live birth. If we had to rationalize some warped God's will or take it as an omen, we'd have lapsed into madness. To me, I can find nothing to distinguish Santorum's religious manias from madness (when John Edwards' name was metioned in another comment, I half expected to read a story about how John Talking Twaddle With The Dead Edwards had channelled the little archangel fetus for some Santorum fundraiser, just as he did for Terry Schiavo in her PVS).

So with that history we've recently found ourselves (accidentally) expecting another child. Factoring in the age of the mother and our history, you can bet we went for genetic counseling and testing to make sure that if there were any abnormalities we could terminate the pregnancy as early as possible before we even dared hope for a healthy child. We were so relieved to hear good news. Now we can hope for a positive experience where our little boy can turn four and meet a little sister.

If Santorum has his way, there would be no point in genetic testing. The outcome wouldn't matter. Santorum's God's will be done, because his values are more moral than mine or my wife's.

"Santorum" is already a nasty word to begin with; so "fetus fondler" almost pales in appropriateness. How about "zygote worshipping cultist" or "blastocyst fetishist" instead? Why is his insane cult wielding such unprecedented political power?

[addendum; left out "author's message"]
If Santorum has his way, there would be no point in genetic testing. The outcome wouldn't matter. Santorum's God's will be done, because his values are more moral than mine or my wife's.

Now *that* is more sick than anything he could do to get through one of life's more heartbreaking personal tragedies.

Congratulations on the new arrival, Ken. All the best to you and your family.

A car accident deprived my mom of the full-term pregnancy that would have produced her first child. Twenty-eight years later the memory is still painful for my parents. So, I appreciate how much this kind of loss affects people.

It's horrifying to think of anyone using such a tragedy as a political ploy. I really do imagine Mr. and Mrs. Santorum throwing Gabe around like a football. If he was a real person to them, they wouldn't dare treat his memory this way.

A couple of years ago I had an abortion at 18 weeks due to a fetal abnormality. It was a wrenching experience, compounded by the fact that it was almost certainly the only pregnancy I will ever have, but I don't regret the decision and would do the same again if I were ever in the same circumstances.

The procedure I had was a D&E, which means that there's no fetus to view, and that was just fine by me and my husband. Since then, I have met, through an online support group, a number of women who have aborted in similar circumstances. Some of them chose to labor and deliver, or to have the much-vilified D&X procedure so that they could see and hold the fetus. I find the idea of doing this horrifying, but I accept that many people think it's an appropriate thing to do.

I realized a while back that how people feel about this has a lot to do with your family religious traditions around bodies and burial. My husband and I are atheists; his background is Jewish, and mine is half Jewish. There's no tradition of viewing the body or elaborate funerals in Judiasm, and no such tradition in either of our families. My father-in-law donated his brain for Parkinson's Disease research, and I have always assumed that I would donate my organs for research or transplantation. So when deciding what to do about the remains of the fetus, it's not too surprising that we didn't want to see it, and tried (unsuccessfully, it turned out) to donate the tissue for research. For someone who comes from a different religious or cultural tradition, this would probably seem as awful as the idea of holding a dead fetus does to me.

But Santorum's behavior is beyond the pale -- crass, calculating, and ugly.

The thing that gets me most about all of this is that Mr. Santorum is trying to use the fact of this tragedy having befallen the Santorum family as a way to assert that Mr. Santorum himself somehow has more or better moral authority than does any one else.

I have cystic fibrosis. I've continued to live despite having cystic fibrosis (and despite that year in college with way too much beer and scotch, but I'm not here to talk about the past). This does not somehow give me moral authority unavailable to anyone else. (One might argue that paying the slightest bit of attention to other people and to their beliefs and values gives me moral authority...but I digress...)

The "yeah, but I went through this so I know what I'm talking about" smack really irks me. Trust me, I've gone through all manner of crap (as has everyone else, mine just has a convenient name) and I'm just as much of a prick as the next person.

At first I was like "Go a little easy on the guy" but then I remembered that Santorum was the frothy mixture of lube and shit that is sometimes a byproduct of anal sex and remember that this guy has been stigmatized by life from it. So fuck him. Santorum is not a human to me.

Lindsey, I agree with you on Santorum. Glenn Reynolds and Little Green Footballs can turn this post on you and do what they did to Kos. They will use a post like this against you every time you make a valid point. Don't play into the hands of the right.

All due respect to Michael H., but this kind of thinking must die. It is no use trying to avoid "playing into the hands of the right." That is what liberals (not so much leftists) have been doing for years now, and it ain't working, because the Right demonizes us no matter what. They don't need facts; they don't need to be right.

So in a way it makes no difference what we do; we will be accused of being traitors and terrorists and baby killers etc. etc. etc. no matter what. We should simply stop altering what we say out of fear of giving the other side "ammunition," because they don't need it.

If I say, "Fuck you Santorum, and your dead not-baby too," what's the worst that can happen? They call me a baby killer? They call me that anyway.

Even more amazing is that some "prolifers", when faced with carrying a fetus with significant deformities, opt to induce labor and deliver 16-20 weeks into gestation knowing they're inducing a still birth (those who induce with deformities a little later, work on the assumption it will be a still birth but if they're baby fights to try to breathe for a few hours all the better, they gave it life). I wonder how Pope Rick feels about this (I've only heard about it being done in Catholic hospitals).

Naw, the damn fool was fondling a false idol. The freak, like the idiots worshiping the false idol of the husk that was Terri Schiavo, were violating the very commandments they profess to "love".

I guess I would like to think my eternity in hell would be free of such bastards, but, I guess that might be part of my "punishment".

All due respect to Michael H., but this kind of thinking must die. It is no use trying to avoid "playing into the hands of the right." That is what liberals (not so much leftists) have been doing for years now, and it ain't working, because the Right demonizes us no matter what. They don't need facts; they don't need to be right.

I'm not worried about winning people like Glenn Reynolds over. It's the center. The left can not win elections without them. End of story. If having Tom Delay and Rick Santorum in Congress is what you want then keep making personal attacks at people. Remember, the right made vicious attacks on Clinton and Democrats picked up seats in the House and Senate.

Whoa. Now THAT is just creepy beyond belief.

What the hell??

Hasn't he heard of the "normal" grieving process?

EEk.

Isn't it funny how obsessed the most fanatical pro-life folks are with the dead and dying but seem to care little for the living? Perhaps if we had options available through (gasp!) social programs, people wouldn't opt for abortions as often as they do. But that thought is way more complicated than ABORTION IS MURDER so I see why certain pols would choose not to engage in the discussion.

A bit off the subject, but this line brought up the thought:

""My father-in-law donated his brain for Parkinson's Disease research, and I have always assumed that I would donate my organs for research or transplantation."" Kudos!

I recommend "Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers" by Mary Roach, if you've never read it.

Basically, with Santorum. Part of what is concerning about his behavior is simply the coloration of scientific facts with a specific theological point of view. It's sick not because an aborted feotus is disgusting in-and-of-itself, it is not -- whatever the emotional reaction of the individuals with some personal feelings invested in this pre-independent-human -- it is the manipulation of a bundle of cells to justify a Right-Christian interpretation. (Oh, and this whole "life-begins-at-conception-when-a-sperm-joins-an-egg" arguement isn't technically mentioned in the Bible. During the period the Bible was written, the thought was that sperm contained the WHOLE being, and the woman just the "carrier of the seed." Though it IS a reason why masturbation was distinctly mentioned and frowned upon in the Old Testament. Heck, everytime an average guy jacks off he's killing some 2 million potential lives. One non-implanted egg pales in comparision.)

A cell is a cell is a cell. A feotus, up to a certain gestational time, can NOT live outside a person's body. While emotionally an abortion is difficult because WE as human beings are more invested in human life, from a science point of view it is crueler to step on a fully independent creature called an ant, than to take the emergency contraception pill. Period. Catching a fish. Shooting a deer is (as a cell is a cell is a cell) a greater travesty (to use the theological argument, not my own) against "life" than a woman choosing to disengage a small bundle of tissue from her uterus.

Emotionalism is not truth.

I would never belittle his grief at what he and his family went through; I know people who've had similar experiences and it's utterly shattering. But Santorum's a real piece of work; in the Post article, at least, he comes across as believing that his loss makes him an expert on sexual and reproductive morality and gives him license for all manner of assholish behavior. That's beyond the pale.

...Furthermore, it's a textbook example of the "culture of victimhood" that liberals are constantly accused of promoting: suffering exploited as insulation from criticism.

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