Wendy Davis and Karen Santorum: Two Pregnancies, Two Problems, Two Points of View

Wendy Davis and Karen Santorum: Two Pregnancies, Two Problems, Two Points of View September 7, 2014

In 1996, Texas Democrat Wendy Davis learned that the child she was carrying in her womb had a severe and life-threatening abnormality.

That same year Karen Santorum, wife of then-Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA), learned that the child she was carrying in her womb had a severe and life-threatening abnormality.

How the two women dealt with their “problems” exposes the chasm which divides pro-life and pro-abortion Americans.

* * * * *

WENDY DAVIS

Wendy Davis (D-Texas) burst onto the national stage in June 2013, when she led a 13-hour filibuster opposing proposed restrictions on abortion. Her campaign to prevent the Texas Legislature from imposing life-saving restrictions (such as requiring an abortionist to have admitting privileges at a local hospital) made her the hero of pro-abortion voters, and her jaunty pink tennis shoes became a symbol for women’s reproductive rights.

Davis has just released a new memoir which reveals, among other things, her 1996 abortion and another, earlier abortion which was necessitated by an ectopic pregnancy. In Forgetting to Be Afraid, Davis describes how she learned in the second trimester that the fetus developing in her womb had a severe brain abnormality. The brain of the fetus had essentially divided—developing without connections between the right and left sides. Doctors told Davis and her former husband Jeff, already parents of two young girls, that if the child survived birth it would be deaf, blind and in a permanent vegetative state.

Had Davis understood Catholic teaching regarding the sanctity of life and the sovereignty of God, she might have decided to pray, and to trust God to give her the child He had created–either as a precious memory (if the child died) or, if she lived, as a special-needs child with extraordinary gifts who would require heroic care and who would elicit from her parents and society an expansive love.

But no:  Davis chose instead to be “god” to her developing offspring, taking upon herself the right to decide whether her child should live or die. In Forgetting to Be Afraid, Davis justifies her choice to kill the child in her womb:

I could feel her little body tremble violently, as if someone were applying an electric shock to her, and I knew then what I needed to do. She was suffering.”

Now it becomes easier to understand Davis’ passionate defense of abortion rights before the Texas Legislature.  Only if the choice to kill one’s child is a “difficult but necessary decision” is Davis exonerated for her own action.  

Someone, I am sure, will insist that it was Davis’s selfishness, her reluctance to accept the profound responsibility of parenting a disabled child, that motivated Wendy Davis to procure an abortion. I don’t know that to be true, and I prefer to take her at her word:  She believed the child would prefer death over disability; and she believed that as the child’s mother, she had the right to implement that ruthless choice.

But the inevitability of that choice is negated by another story which unfolded that same year, the story of Gabriel Michael Santorum.  (I told the story of Gabriel’s birth and reported on the Catholic Church’s institution of a special Blessing of the Unborn Child here.)

In 1996, just as Senator Rick Santorum was leading the charge against partial birth abortion in the U.S. Senate, Rick and his wife Karen learned that their unborn child, too, suffered from an irreversible and deadly defect.

KAREN SANTORUM

Karen Santorum was in the 19th week of pregnancy when a routine sonogram revealed that the child had a fatal defect and was going to die. Gabriel Michael Santorum, the unborn son of the Santorums, suffered from an obstruction of the urinary tract called posterior urethral valve syndrome. The Santorums consulted with specialists who offered several options—among them abortion.

Rather than ending the life of their child, however, the Santorums elected to attempt a long-shot intrauterine surgery to correct the obstruction. Despite a high risk of infection through an incision in the womb, Karen underwent rare “bladder shunt” surgery at Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia. The surgery did, in fact, lead to infection; and two days later, with a 105 degree fever, Karen was rushed to the high-risk pregnancy unit in Pittsburgh’s Magee-Women’s Hospital. Unless the source of the infection (the fetus) was removed from Karen’s body, they were told, she would likely die.

Agonizing over the decision whether to hasten delivery for the developing but not-yet-viable child, thus saving Karen’s life, the Santorums had their answer when the antibiotics which fought Karen’s infection also caused her to go into labor. Doctors delivered tiny Gabriel Michael, and Rick Santorum baptized his newborn son. Rick and Karen held his tiny body in their arms, rocking him and singing to him, for two hours until he died. Then they did something rarely seen: They took his small body home so that their two older children could see their brother, could hold him and pray for God to welcome him into his heavenly kingdom.

Like Wendy Davis, Karen Santorum went home with empty arms to grieve the loss of her child. The difference, though, was that whereas Wendy had chosen death, believing death by abortion to be preferable to the uncertain life of a disabled child, Karen had chosen life—even subjecting herself to a painful and risky surgery, in an attempt to save the child God had given them.  Perhaps her baby would die–in fact, she knew he would die–but it would be God’s will, not hers, that would ultimately end the heartbeat of this precious child and take him home to heaven.  The Santorums’ faith in the sovereignty of God meant that they accepted his divine will, regardless of whether their unborn child, God’s beautiful creation, lived or died.

Throughout her pregnancy, Karen Santorum wrote letters to her unborn son—never expecting that they would someday be published. Those poignant and heart-warming letters, recounting the story of Gabriel Michael’s brief but meaningful life, have been collected in Letters to Gabriel: The True Story of Gabriel Michael Santorum. With great tenderness, Karen Santorum expresses the ineffable bond between mother and child.

Letters to Gabriel is a powerful tribute to the sanctity of life, the deep faith of the Santorums, and strong family values.  If you didn’t read it when it was first released, it’s not too late.

 

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  • oregon nurse

    And of course there is their 8th child, Isabella, born with Trisonomy 18 who is now about 6 yrs old. Most babies with the condition, 9 out of 10, die at birth or by abortion. The Santorums have truly been blessed by God with a capacity to love and give of themselves to those most defenseless. Thank you for reminding us of the pro-life witness of this remarkable Catholic family.

    • Lark62

      Being blessed with several million dollars and unlimited access to nurses and nannies helps a tad.

      When it’s a choice of losing your job and watching your children go without food, it isn’t quite as clear cut.

      • Rob B.

        Of course! I keep forgetting that murder is perfectly justified if the victim inconveniences me…

        • Lark62

          If abortion is murder, god commits a new mass murder daily. The according to some scientists, 80% of embryos don’t implant. This means that for every birth, god killed at least 4 people.

          Except they are not “people”. You can believe this is you like, but other people are not criminals if they don’t believe your delusions.

          I used to get furious with my brother when he coldly sat on my imaginary friend. When I was five.

  • niknac

    Each of these women made a hard decision. Both must live with the consequences. We aren’t them. We cannot say what we would do. Where is the imperative to choose between them which one is good and which is bad? It seems needlessly inflammatory.

    • LauraAnn Johnston

      Maybe some women can’t, but I can. After a diagnosis of Epilepsy 33 years ago, I knew that any pregnancy I might have would be high-risk. I would have taken the same road that Karen Santorum did. Life is precious no matter how short or how long and no one has the right to take it away except God.

      • Sharon Diehl

        Nope, Laura, I have the rights to my own body–not some invisible mythological sky entity. I make all decisions concerning my body.

        • oregon nurse

          Except the most important of all. You didn’t bring yourself into existence. And you sure didn’t survive under your own decision-making for the first part of your life. You really aren’t here under your own power at all.

    • Dunsworth

      The imperative is at the point at which a society decides whether it is going to value human life as such, or not. If human life is always to be valued, then the decision to kill a child because of its incipient problems is necessarily bad, and not to do so is necessarily better.

    • LeticiaVelasquez

      I have a baby with a disability. I chose life, its always the right decision.

      • Lark62

        It was the right decision for you and your family.

        • Rob B.

          No it was the morally right decision. Period. Otherwise, I can start killing people willy-nilly because it’s “the right decision for me.”

          • Sharon Diehl

            You’re so silly, Robby…and uber religious….and obviously a member of the Cult of Fetal Idolatry…and view women as mere walking sacs of growing medium for fetuses. This is the 21st Century, dear. I’ll try to break this to you as gently as possible–women are not chattel to men anymore….and we will not be chattel to an embryo.

            Women do not have to grovel before christian extremists, sweetie, who think they have a right to tell all women, whatever their faiths, what they can and cannot do with their bodies.

            Yes, Rob, dear, women have personal freedom—it’s not the Dark Ages anymore, honey. More and more people are enjoying their lives free of the “buybull”. Women’s freedom is obviously a threat to those whose lives are ruled by religious dogma. Are you jealous of other people who don’t live in fear as you do of some invisible vengeful sky entity? Religious adherence is weakening with each passing generation, as people are better educated.

    • niknac

      It’s unclear to me. Are you saying that because you have made a choice, that any other choice must not be legally allowable?

      • Tullia_Ciceronis

        Should it be legal for parents to either directly euthanize or starve to death severely disabled or terminally ill newborns? Then why should doing the same to a fetus be legal?

        • Sharon Diehl

          My paternal grandmother was a nurse in New York City; from what I understand from her, different hospitals had different ways of dealing with extreme preemies and critically ill infants with no chance at life–so the answer is yes, parents can choose to withhold life support for a terminally ill infant–it’s considered end-of-life care.

          • Tullia_Ciceronis

            Yes, withhold life support. It is not legal to directly kill such infants by injecting their hearts with poison the way it is with fetus. (The vast majority of late term abortions are done by this method, BTW) It is not even legal to kill them by denying them shelter and nourishment, which is comparable to simply inducing premature labor (without the poison) so that a terminally ill fetus dies sooner. It is legal to deny extreme measures and extraordinary care such a life support and medication that only delays death, not to deny the basics of nourishment and shelter and not to directly kill them.

        • Lark62

          Because people who are currently breathing have value, even (gasp!) non virgin females.

          • Tullia_Ciceronis

            Everyone has value, my question is, why should a fetus have less value than a born person? If is this is about bodily autonomy, then what do you think about this scenario-Tatiana and Anastasia are conjoined twins who have brains and skulls which are fused together, but don’t share any organs. Anastasia’s kidneys failed as a baby, so now she depends on Tatiana’s kidneys for survival. Should it be legal for Tatiana to force Anastasia to undergo a lethal separation surgery? This is a real life scenario by the way.

          • oregon nurse

            Great question. Let’s see them dance around this one.

          • oregon nurse

            I re-visited your excellent question to see any of the radical “it’s my body I can kill my baby if I want to” pro-abortion ladies dared to try and answer, let alone say that Tatiana has the right to force Anastasia’s separation and death under the same rationale they use for abortion. I’m not surprised there has been no answer from the likes of Sharon Diehl and Lark 62 who otherwise have so much to say on the topic.

          • Lindsey Leigh Phillips

            I’m sure plenty of people have answered you. It just doesn’t suit your chosen narrative.

        • Lindsey Leigh Phillips

          You can hand a baby off to any competant caregiver. You can’t do that with an embryo, not least of all because it isn’t a person yet.
          Or was thay a rhetorical question?

      • Barbara C.

        If it’s OK to kill a baby in the womb because it might have serious health issues or handicaps, then why is it not OK to kill children and adults who are discovered to have serious health issues or handicaps after birth?

        • Lark62

          Because one is a person and the other is not.

          • Barbara C.

            That is scientifically incorrect. From the moment of fertilization it is a unique creature with human DNA that will continue to grow and develop for nine months in the womb and the next 20 years after birth before it reaches maturity.

            There are no such species called “embryo” or “fetus”; those are descriptive terms for stages of development, as are “infant”, “adolescent”, and “adult”. Since the word “person” refers to a human being and the only creature that two human beings can create is another human being, then it is in actually a person inside the womb.

          • Lark62

            One may become a person. Without a brain and functioning organs, it is not yet a person.

            Since we disagree, and neither of us can be proven right or wrong, I won’t make life changing medical decisions for you and you won’t make life changing medical decisions for me.

          • 613

            Scientifically, Lark62 you are proven wrong. A human fetus is just that a human. Fetus is an unborn mammal. Since a human cannot have a whale or a cat or a dog or any other mammal, a human fetus is therefore a human. Brain waves start at around 21 days after conception. The heart beats starts at around 14 days after conception. The unborn human being has its own DNA and blood type. It is completely separate individual from the mother. It should not be a “choice” to kill your own child for any reason except if the life of the mother is in immediate danger and both lives cannot be saved. Life starts (scientifically) at conception.

          • Lark62

            None of that is “proof” that the embryo or fetus is a person. It may become a person, but it isn’t one yet.

            Also, it contradicts the bible. The bible says that breath is life. Before breath there is no life.

            And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. Gen 2:7

            The bible also contains instructions for causing an abortion when the husband is jealous. See Numbers 5:11-31. It tells the priests to force a woman accused of adultery to drink “bitter water” designed to cause a miscarriage.

            The bible also says that harm to a woman that causes a miscarriage is treated as property damage, with compensation paid to the husband.

            We can argue all day long. The bottom line is that an unborn embryo or fetus is not a viable human being, even according to the bible. No one has the right to force a woman to carry a non-viable fetus. Women are not a uteri with feet, walking incubators. Women have every right to the sanctity of their own bodies.

          • Margaret

            What IS a ‘person’?

          • Lark62

            Good question. That is the heart of the matter.

            It’s like the old question – “if a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?” People can argue for years, but it all rests on the fact that sound can be defined in different ways.

            Life can be defined in so many different ways, each of which serves a different opinion.

            So for me, it boils down to two things: the fact that women have value and autonomy over their bodies and my belief that no child should be brought into the world if the parents are not prepared to properly care for him/her.

            I don’t believe that not existing is a tragedy. It is estimated that nearly half of pregnancies end with spontaneous abortion. If I didn’t exist, I wouldn’t exist. I do believe that we must first value the lives that have been born.

          • Chadlius

            Lark62 you must be right since within living memory the Catholic position was that a baby’s first breath coincided with the creation of a soul. A zygote with a full complement of DNA is not more human than any other cell and with cloning theoretically every cell has the potential to be a self sustaining “human”. I had heard that Santorum is more Catholic than the Pope but now it appears he thinks he is at least a priest with the authority to baptize his own son. Biblical women were property as were children with the father having the right to kill them if they disobeyed at any point.

          • oregon nurse

            “since within living memory the Catholic position was that a baby’s first breath coincided with the creation of a soul.”

            Are you intentionally lying or did you just pull that off an atheist website?

          • oregon nurse

            Yeah, but it’s not YOUR body you’re killing is it? It’s pretty disgusting to talk about your bodily sanctity in the same breath as defending your right to violate the sanctity of another – your own flesh and blood. That’s about as cold as it gets.

          • Lark62

            Oregon, please open your eyes and understand that your way of seeing the world isn’t the only way. You see a newly pregnant woman and see a baby person and nothing else. I look at a newly pregnant woman and see a human being -maybe a wife and mother, maybe holding down a job, maybe caring for ill parents or children.

            The fact that you have turned a non viable fetus into a super human whose rights trump all doesn’t make it so. Other people, just as moral as you, reach different moral conclusions. Hate and contempt for those people is wrong,

          • Sharon Diehl

            613 and Barbara, “life”, or rather a “human being”, does not start at conception. Are you unaware that 60-80% of fertilized eggs, i.e., embryos, never imbed in a uterine wall and are expelled from sexually active women during menses? Note: Not just one unfertilized egg a month is flushed from a woman during menstrual flow; so many people have this simplistic notion of a woman’s reproductive system. If the woman is trying to get pregnant, for every successful embryo that manages to implant in a uterine wall, it’s estimated that five to nine early embryos “miscarry”; half of these “lost” embryos are perfectly viable. Therefore, “spare” embryos are produced for almost every pregnancy (Drs. Michael Sandel; John Opitz; President’s Council on Bioethics).

            Gynecologists estimate that half of those embryos that do not imbed during a favorable window of 6 to 12 days could have been viable fetuses had they burrowed their way into the uterine lining. Furthermore, March of Dimes estimates that half of all embryos that do imbed undergo spontaneous abortion, i.e. the medical term for a miscarriage. Sexually active women are often unaware they have conceived and aborted, and don’t think it unusual if there is a heavy period or clumping. Ergo, abortion is a natural bodily process in a woman’s reproductive system (Toby Ord, 2008, The Scourge: Moral Implications of Natural Embryo Loss: The American Journal of Bioethics, 8(7): 12–19. http://www.amirrorclear.net/academic/papers/scourge.pdf

            Each one of those perfectly viable embryos had its own unique human DNA, but that did not bestow special rights, nor keep them from landing in the toilet.

          • Lindsey Leigh Phillips

            You certainty can be proven right. Think of it this way: any baby or adult diagnosed with any condition can be cared for by any competant caregiver. An embryo, on the other hand, can’t have its gestation handed off to a healthier or willing body. We don’t murder people who need care, but we don’t comandeer citizens to act as their life support systems, either.
            The only hope this antichoice argument could have would hinge on the (false) assumption/ assertion that a significant number of women have late term abortions. Otherwise they’re arguing for an equvalency in which an elderly man is developmentally equivalent to an embryo with no developed higher brain function. Like, i don’t mean deformed…it doesnt exist yet! An acorn is an oak tree? Its some Kurt Vonnegut shit, i can’t explain their “logic”.

          • Tullia_Ciceronis

            Why is the fetus not a person? Is it because the fetus is not sentient? What about temporary coma patients in deep comas that lack the ability to consciously sense, the definition of sentience? What about an infant born into such a temporarily comatose state, is that infant not a person? Is it because the fetus is not viable before 24 weeks? What about a conjoined twin who cannot live separated from its sibling? Is such a twin not a person?

        • Sharon Diehl

          Barbie, honey, those children and adults of which you speak are not inside my womb, and therefore none of my business. Whatever has to do with my body is my business….and none of yours, sweetie.

    • Mary Ellen

      The imperative is to decide if we are a society that disposes of people who are deemed “imperfect”. The most vulnerable among us deserve our protection the most. I gave birth to a child with a disability and the fourteen years he was with us was the best gift God could have blessed us with. I would give anything for five more minutes with him. By your philosophy of moral relativism nothing is bad since the worst sin is to be inconvenienced. If it bothers me kill it. You should be inflamed, you should be outraged that a woman would dispose of her child because of it’s “imperfections”. We are all created with a soul which is in the image and likeness of God, and as such all are worthy of being born, whatever physical disabilities exist.

    • niknac

      God gave Mary a clear choice as to whether or not she was willing to bear his child. No woman, anywhere at any time, deserves less.

      • Rob B.

        That choice was given to Mary before conception, not after. A woman who has sex and aborts her child is changing her mind after the choice has been made.

        • niknac

          To believe that every pregnant woman has made a choice to be so and has exhausted her God given autonomy is cruel. To allow no further decision after conception is as murderous to the living, breathing mother as it is to the clump of cells in her uterus you claim to want to “save”

  • ABST27

    I don’t believe Wendy Davis is Catholic and she probably does not see this moral choice the way we do. Perhaps in her mind aborting the child prevented needless suffering fo the child and for her loved ones. That is not a choice my husband and I would make but again, she was not raised with the same theology or ways about understanding of life. I am sure this was a traumatic choice for her, too. I am not sure it’s fair to compare her to another woman. We will all have to answer for our choices one day and we also have no idea of God’s boundless mercy.

    • oregon nurse

      So, are you saying abortion isn’t objectively wrong? It’s all relative to what the mom thinks about it so don’t judge her actions?

      The OT reading today offers some clarity on this.

      Thus says the LORD:
      You, son of man, I have appointed watchman for the house of Israel;
      when you hear me say anything, you shall warn them for me.
      If I tell the wicked, “O wicked one, you shall surely die, ”
      and you do not speak out to dissuade the wicked from his way,
      the wicked shall die for his guilt,
      but I will hold you responsible for his death.
      But if you warn the wicked,
      trying to turn him from his way,
      and he refuses to turn from his way,
      he shall die for his guilt,
      but you shall save yourself.

      • ABST27

        Never said such a thing. Never implied such a thing. Please don’t put words in my mouth or thoughts in my head. We all will have to answer for our choices one day. However, I am unclear what purpose is served by holding up someone else’s sin. We are all beggars in need of mercy, me you and Karen Santorum included. Let’s pray for one another.

        • oregon nurse

          ” We all will have to answer for our choices one day. However, I am unclear what purpose is served by holding up someone else’s sin.”

          This is what makes the reading so pertinent. We will all have to answer not only for the sin we do but for the sin we refuse to address as well. Wendy chose to go public, that makes publically “holding up” the sin of her abortion not only “fair” but the Bible would indicate it’s necessary. Kathy did a very good job by not just criticising but by also holding up the example of how God would want a couple to act.

          • Sharon Diehl

            Those of us outside of your religion think this “sinning” business is quite silly. I don’t think Wendy “sinned”; I don’t think I “sinned”. We ladies made medical decisions. Thank god, we live in a century where women are autonomous human beings with basic civil rights to their bodies.

          • Lark62

            Yes, people forget how real “dying in childbirth” used to be.

            I believe it is immoral to bring a child into this world if the parents will not have the resources to care for that child. It is likewise immoral to expect a wife and mother to to place more value on an embryo than on the her own health and security of her children.

          • Sharon Diehl

            I agree with you, Lark….and women still die from complications of pregnancy and in childbirth in this country.

          • Lark62

            Yes. Pregnancy can still cause death.

          • oregon nurse

            I think the fact you don’t believe in sin to be quite silly. What’s even more silly is that you felt a need to waste your time telling me that.

          • Lark62

            Didn’t you just make a post arguing against certain behavior as “sinful”?

            That makes as much sense as me telling you that certain behavior displeases the loch Ness monster and expecting that to matter. If you didn’t want us to tell you that being accused of making god mad is flat out silly, don’t use sin (“an offense against god”) as an argument.

          • Rob B.

            Of course you believe sin is “silly.” Any idea of obective morality is silly if you want to do whatever you want without consequence…

          • Lark62

            Sin is an offense against god. “Fin” is offense the Loch Ness Monster.

            I don’t worry about sinning against god, but I have decided that you cannot be moral unless you worry about finning against the blessed LNM.

        • linred

          Well said, ABST27!!! Thank you for those good words!!! I would like to add, rules are made for people, not people for rules!

  • momof12

    When I was 12 weeks pregnant with my eleventh child, I was given a similar prognosis as the one Wendy Davis received. It’s called Agenesis of the Corpus Calossum. The tissue that connects the left and right brain is missing. I was told that IF my baby survived the pregnancy, he would have severe deformities and disabilities, live in a vegetative state with no organ function. Michael is now 3 and a half years old and is the light of our lives. He had a VP shunt placement at 9 months of age to drain fluid from his brain, he has low muscle tone, but is walking with a walker, and very close to walking on his own. He has a precocious personality, is sociable, kind, empathetic and has quite a sense of humor. He has been able to recognize all of his letters, sounds and numbers since before the age of two. He loves music, sings all of the hymns and responses at Mass, knows all of his prayers, loves his siblings and is loved by all of us. Our world is a better place because of Michael. How many souls the world has been deprived of by abortion. Michael has made me a better mother and a better person.

    • Lark62

      I am glad that you are joyful with your 12 children. But you are not everyone, and everyone is not you.

      Look at it this way. Because I was conceived by sperm number 4,333,215 out of 6 million, the world lost out on 5,999,999 other humans that might have been conceived that fateful night. They simply do not exist. (What if one had been the next Steve Jobs?) Because I was conceived in January, the several million humans that might have conceived in February, March, etc. simply do not exist. If my mother had become pregnant in December, I wouldn’t exist. If using her best judgment, my mother had aborted me, I simply wouldn’t exist. Just like all those others that don’t exist.

      There are trillions upon trillions of people who might have existed, but don’t. The key is to love, cherish and care for the people who are here as you are doing, and as most of us try to do. The key is to make the best decisions you can for yourself and your family, and trust other women to do the same. Accept that what is best for you may not be best for everyone.

      • John Watkins

        Beautifully put. Smartly put.

        People need to take several steps back and realize they’re lucky as hell to be born at all. So what if their mom had chosen to abort them? God aborts by far the most babies through miscarriage alone, and no one’s giving God crap about it.

        • Sharon Diehl

          Exactly, John W., when I’ve pointed out all the passages in the bible in which pregnant women and infants are slaughtered, I’ve had uber religious people tell me that because he’s ‘god’ that he is entitled to take such lives.

          Here’s a quote from one of them: Lee Smith: “When all the libs start quoting scripture where God killed people and babies , they need to be gently reminded that He’s God , therefore He has that right.”

          Maybe Lee’s ‘god’ is a murderous invisible sky entity, but not my version of a “god”.

          • Lark62

            I personally cannot see how anyone can worship the genocidal maniac that is the biblical god. Even if I believed it existed, I couldn’t praise or worship it.

  • Sharon Diehl

    Religious crap article. Many years ago, I aborted when I got pregnant when the IUD I was using for birth control perforated my uterus. I faced hemorrhaging to death, pelvic inflammatory disease, and/or deformed fetus. My husband and I thought it a no-brainer to obtain a life-saving abortion. A nurse who identified herself as “catholic” to me in the prep room in the hospital told me she disagreed with my decision and would not assist me. She was reported for harassing me by another nurse, who told me later that my quite angry female doctor dismissed the religious nutjob on the spot and told her to stay away from all her patients in the future. This REAL nurse was so happy not to be working with the religious nutjob anymore!

    I don’t dance to the tune of celibate men in long funny dresses. I will vote for politicians who respect a woman’s private medical decision concerning her own body. My medical decisions are of no concern to the “buybull” impaired.

    • lavallette

      Got every sign this was written either by a man or a woman with a very active imagination.

      • Sharon Diehl

        Lavallette, the article by Schiffer is very imaginative–condemning Davis for her choices, and lauding Santorum–but that is what comes of magical thinking.

        In the real world, I prefer the advice of doctors, not know-nothing religious politicians and their constituents.

        We’re not a country held hostage by religion–such as Ireland, where Savita Halappanavar was allowed to die from a partial miscarriage and sepsis, because the nonviable fetus was considered more important than her life. I shudder to think that this country would ever become such a misogynistic theocracy–which is why politicians such as Santorum will never receive my vote.

    • Lark62

      Well said, although in many cases “celibate” may be optimistic.

    • 613

      This is a completely different issue than what the article was talking about. Yours was not an elective abortion. The nurse was completely out of line. She did not have to participate, but she should not have said those things to you.

      • Sharon Diehl

        The article talks about abortion, 613. My statements about my own experience with an abortion is not a different issue at all. Were I in a catholic hospital, instead of just having a catholic nurse inflicted on me, I would no doubt have been told by catholic doctors to try and go to term with the fetus, and take my chances at hemorrhaging to death like 35 women had already bled out and died before me with the same IUD.

        There is a movement afoot in the U.S. for women of reproductive age to tell our husbands and relatives that should anything go wrong in a pregnancy, and we’re unable to communicate, do NOT take us to a catholic hospital–because the patient would be the fetus–not the woman–not the woman and fetus–just the fetus.

        I can offer you an infamous example of why Catholics for Choice, The Christian Left, the Young Women’s Christian Association, and other pro-choice organizations, including the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, are alarmed at how catholic organizations are buying up hospitals across this country, especially in rural areas. In 2010, doctor’s at the catholic-affiliated St. Joseph’s Hospital, in Phoenix, AZ, performed a life-saving abortion on an 11-week pregnant woman, dying from pulmonary hypertension in the ER. Medical nun, Margaret McBride, authorized the life-saving abortion. Local Bishop Olmsted got wind of this loss of a martyr to the ‘faith’, and promptly excommunicated the nun involved in the decision to save the woman, and retracted the hospital’s catholic affiliation. Can’t go around saving those uppity women! The doctors and hospital administrator stated that they saved the life that they could–the woman–who means nothing to those who worship the fetus. Public outcry against Olmsted ensued, of course, and McBride was restored to her Sister’s of Mercy, but the hospital remains unaffiliated because they refuse to let women patients die.

        When catholic organizations buy up hospitals, they impose their religious dogma onto the doctors and nurses, to the detriment of health care for the female patient.

        • Lark62

          Yes! The catholic worship the fetus cult views women as expendable. If the fetus isn’t viable, its fine if the mother dies too.

          There have been some comments here along that line, of women who were glad to risk death for a fetus that might not even make it. They have a right to that decision for themselves alone. That have no right to spread their death cult.

          Pro life means placing value on the people currently breathing.

          • Sharon Diehl

            I agree completely, Lark. The real religious whackadoodles Operation Save America/Operation Rescue/Abolish Human Abortion have called me a murderer because I ensured the safety of my own life, and they scream that my husband and I should have sterilized ourselves. What nutjobs!

    • Margaret

      Perhaps you might make a better argument without the insulting language.

      • Sharon Diehl

        ??? There is no “argument”, Margaret. There is no ‘arguing’ with magical thinkers. I’m simply stating what I stand for and why….what many, many women and men in this country stand for, and why they/me will continue to battle the magical thinkers and keep them/you out of our private medical decisions.

        This article sneers at Wendy Davis for her choice–portraying her as reluctant to parent a disabled child, disregarding her reasons for not wanting a child to suffer. Schiffer sneers at Davis for playing “god” over her body. Margaret, honey, people play “god” over their bodies all the effing time–that is why we take medicines to battle diseases willy nilly inflicted upon us–unless you think that your ‘god’ selects individuals to get cancer or other ailments.

        I certainly played “god” over my body–Schiffer no doubt sneers at me for not having her silly catholic beliefs. I will play “god” over my body until my death.

        • oregon nurse

          Methinks thou doth protest too much. You are trying so hard and with so much anger and bitterness to convince others with post after post about how right you are. I think the person you desperately want to convince is yourself.
          http://www.rachelsvineyard.org/

          • Sharon Diehl

            Sweetie, the Rachel project exists to try and make women feel guilty about their choices in life. I’m not a religious nutjob, oregon nurse. Here are some more “protests”, honey.

            You bet I am quite angry with those who think their silly religious beliefs should be foisted on everyone in this country. I am fed up with stupid bible-humping politicians interfering with women’s basic health care–politicians such as Terry England, R GA, who wrote HB 954, the “Women As Livestock” bill to force women with a stillborn fetus to go to term with it, because by dang, and I quote: “the cows and pigs on the farm do.”

            I am fed up with loons like Louie Gohmert, R TX. In a congressional panel on a 20-week abortion ban, he told Christy Zink, who testified that she aborted an anencephalic fetus at 22 weeks, that she should have been forced to bear the brain-dead fetus to term to “make sure”. I could go and on with such examples of unqualified stupidity….

            …which brings to mind, Mark Obenshain, R VA., who wrote a bill to force women who have had a miscarriage to
            report it to the police within 24 hours, or go to jail for a year. I’m sure you were broken-hearted when such a fine piece of legislation was withdrawn due to ridicule…and Mr. Obenshain lost his bid for attorney general in Nov 2013. His catholic buddy, Ken Cuccinelli, who voted for personhood bills and wanted to ban all IUDs because they offend his religious sensibilities, did not win the women’s vote either, and he lost his bid for governorship.

            In 2011, the Rethug-held house passed HR 358, the “Let Women Die” act, which would have let a religious hospital deny a life-saving abortion to a dying hemorrhaging pregnant woman. The sensible Senate did not let this pass, and our good president said he would veto such a misogynistic piece of legislation should it ever cross his desk.

            Ah, my dear, there is too much anti-woman’s health legislation to list–about 2,000 bills have been written since 2010 by Rethugs, solely aimed at controlling my sexuality, fertility, access to contraception, and taking away my basic civil rights to make medical decisions over my own body.

            I will vote BLUE.

          • Lark62

            And now cue,

            “But honeychild, let’s not get angry. It isn’t ladylike, dear.”

          • Lark62

            Not.

            Anger comes from watching people treat women as expendable incubators without value while boasting of their super morality.

      • Lark62

        I think Ms Diehl communicated her point clearly and effectively.

    • oregon nurse

      The real story here is your perforated uterus from your IUD which was designed to continally scrape your uterus raw and keep fertilized embryos from implanting. The scraping went a lot futher than planned didn’t it? This happens far more often than most people realize and women just literally lay back and take it. Was it your quite angry female doctor who stuck the thing in your body in the first place?

      • Lark62

        The single most effective way to reduce abortion is effective birth control.

      • The tone of this comments makes it seem like you are glad her uterus was perforated. You bring down judgement on this woman for her choice to attempt to PREVENT pregnancy. The last time I checked, according to the Christian bible, life and death AS WELL AS JUDGEMENT are reserved for god.

        • oregon nurse

          I’ve taken care of enough women who had not only their uterus perforated but one woman her bladder as well with urine leaking into her pelvic cavity. Yes, it makes me angry how few women know this can happen to them with a IUD. Not one of the women I took care of knew the risk she took on when she had the IUD placed. It’s the same problem we see today with brainwashed women who march to protect their right to have abortions in unsafe settings. They are probably going to get their wish in Texas. When a woman dies from an abortion in a Texas clinic I will be angry about that as well.

          • Will you be just as angry when a woman dies from pregnancy complications because she couldn’t find access to an abortion? (as in the case of an ectopic pregnancy or other similar circumstance?) Maybe I’m reading it wrong, but this sentence “The scraping went a lot futher than planned didn’t it?” seems sarcastic and mean spirited as well as judgmental. Not exactly a great way to convince people of your compassion.

          • oregon nurse

            Ectopic pregnancies are medical emergencies and the surgery takes place in a hospital. If you think that abortion clinics take care of “pregnancy complications” you need to do some serious studying up on the subject so you can at least have an informed opinion before you post them.

            Yeah, I was sarcastic. So what? You seem to get more upset over my sarcasm than killing babies. What does that say about your spirit and compassion?

          • Sharon Diehl

            Maureen, I recognize the uber religiosity of oregon nurse, and there is no reasoning with such people–she reminds me of that ‘catholic nurse’ I had the misfortune to encounter in a prep room of a hospital! Hmmm, I wonder if oregon nurse ever worked in Ft. Collins, Colorado…;-)

            I’ve come to view these people as mentally ill–it seems their firm belief in a vengeful sky entity that will burn people for eternity, who don’t believe exactly as they do, is the only thing that manages to keep such people functioning in day to day life. Sounds pretty psychotic to me.

          • Well I had a nice comment prepared and them my computer went crazy. The short of it that I disengaged with her because we are all coming from places of compassion, and she is unwilling to see that.

          • Sharon Diehl

            Re: computer gone crazy: Been there, done that–it’s so frustrating!

            Re: compassion: Yes, some of the people commenting here state that a woman should give birth even if the child is only going to live for a few hours. Others would spare a child such suffering.

            To me, the first group exemplifies the Mother Teresa approach, i.e., that suffering brings one closer to a god. I cannot wrap my head around such thinking. I’m obviously in the second camp.

  • Guest

    I’m always fascinated by the inevitable comments to this type of an article that say something to the effect of ‘my body, my choice’ or ‘we can’t judge others’ choices’ or ‘we’ve all sinned’ etc. While I have no idea what the motivation is behind these types of comments, the effect is to negate the intrinsic evil that abortion is.
    If another Intrinsic Evil, such as slavery, was substituted for abohrtion, would we see comments such as “We had to buy slaves..” or “Who knows what they were thinking when they bought slaves?” That sounds horrible because it is horrible.
    The problem is that, in this country, we’ve learned to live with the deaths of over a million innocent children a year. That reality has harden our hearts to how horrible this is.

    • Sharon Diehl

      Guest, honey, this “intrinsic evil” is all in your narrow little mind.

      Oh, and sweetie, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 50 MILLION WOMEN PER YEAR WORLDWIDE obtain abortions. Whether developed country or undeveloped, legal or illegal, if a woman doesn’t want to be pregnant, she doesn’t want to be pregnant.

      I’m betting you’re a male, Guest.

  • Lark62

    As I understand it, catholics and others believe that a supernatural being breaths a soul into the zygote at the moment of conception.

    The simple fact is that many other people view that as absurd. A collection of cells, which as an embryo will spend time looking like a fish embryo, then a reptilian embryo and will eventually have a tail and body fur is not a person. It may develop into a person, but until it has a brain and functioning organs and can survive outside the womb it is not yet a person.

    From the first perspective, the choice that values human life is to make sure that collection of cells is born, no matter how deformed or disadvantaged that person may be, and even if it means the mother will die or siblings will will suffer financial or emotional deprivation.

    From the other perspective, the choice that values human life is the one that protects the health of the mother and ensures as much as possible that every child that enters the world is born to parents with the physical, financial and emotional resources to care for that child.

    • Rob B.

      Well, there’s one easy way to make sure that the parents have “physical, financial and emotional resources to care for that child;” don’t have sex until you are ready to accept the responsibility. Of course, try saying that to a culture who has absolved the sexually active of any responsibility for their actions…

      • Lark62

        Your cult teaches that sex is intrinsically evil. Those outside your cult don’t agree.

  • John Watkins

    So Karen Santorum was a saint for risking her life for her unviable baby? Actually, one can also paint it as an incredibly selfish act to brashly stick to an arbitrary principal (in this case, the idea that abortion is wrong), a decision that endangered her ability to take care of her other children. Was it so wrong of Wendy Davis to make the decision to take care of the children she already had, ones that really needed her and would not be able to have her if she died giving birth to an unviable baby? Wendy Davis was playing God no more than Karen Santorum did by deciding to undergo the surgery and antibiotics in a futile attempt to save the baby’s life.

    I, however, will not paint Karen Santorum’s act as selfish, nor will I paint Wendy Davis’s act as selfish. They both did what they thought was right. But I will fault the Santorums for shaming people like Wendy Davis who do choose to end their pregnancies. An abortion is almost never an act of pure, isolated selfishness. An abortion takes into account not just the child in the mother’s stomach, but also the child the mother may already have or may plan to have in the future. It takes into account all the other people in the mother’s life that she has to care for.

    Anti-choice people should just be upfront and honest: they are squeamish at the idea of a woman ending her pregnancy. They are squeamish at the idea of a viable fetus being terminated. They don’t care about the woman–they care about not feeling knee-jerk revulsion.

    • Lark62

      There is also the sluut shaming motivation.

      Rush Limbaugh said about Ms Fluke “she thinks she can have sex without consequences.”

      Some demented people think that an infant is god’s “punishment” for a woman who has had sex.

    • Lark62

      Risking your life and the security of your family and other children for a non viable fetus to me is wrong.

      Telling other women, requiring other women to make that decision is revolting.

  • Amaryllis

    to trust God to give her the child He had created–either as a precious
    memory (if the child died) or, if she lived, as a special-needs child
    with extraordinary gifts who would require heroic care and who would
    elicit from her parents and society an expansive love.

    That seems to me to b extraordinarily optimistic. Whether the memory is “precious” or “traumatic” depends on the person and the circumstances– and, as a friend of mine lost a full-term baby to stillbirth recently, I’m kind of leaning to “traumatic” as a fairly predictable outcome.

    As for a disabled person eliciting an “expansive love” from society, not so’s I’ve noticed. “Society” doesn’t really seem inclined to pick up the tab for long-term care and support of people with major disabilities. Maybe that should be different, but women have to make their choices with the society they have, not the society they wish they had.

    And the parents may be as loving as any other parents, but love only goes so far. Not all families have the financial and emotional resources to carry that burden without breaking.

    No, I’m not saying that disabled people have no value. And I’m not saying that a high-risk pregnancy should never be attempted to be carried to term. Just that the woman involved– the actual living human being– is the only person who can make that choice. And I will note that according to your own account, the Santorums were “agonizing” over whether to induce early labor of a non-viable child– that is, to abort a fetus– when the decision was made for them.

    The Santorums have the right to their choices. So does Wendy Davis, and so does every other woman.

  • BT

    Articles like this just don’t help matters.

    Pro life and pro choice folks are speaking two entirely different languages, with neither taking many pains to understand the other.

    This article is just one more in a long and pointless tradition we’ve established.

    I was hoping for something more insightful when I read the title.

    • Sharon Diehl

      BT, dear, I understand that the forced birthers, er, “pro-lifers” wish to take away a woman’s basic civil rights to make medical decisions over her own body. I understand that the forced-birhers, er, “pro-lifers” value the fetus over the living, breathing woman. What is not to understand? I understand perfectly–I just don’t agree with “them” and will fight them with my political dollars and vote.

      • BT

        It’s just that the way you frame the issue sounds completely foreign to a pro-life person. They can’t see it in those terms – it doesn’t describe in any sense they way they think of the issue in their minds. Just like the way they describe the pro-choice position (murder, child killing, atheistic….) doesn’t capture at all how you see yourself in this context.

        The language we use on both sides has to change if we’re going to get anywhere.
        Alternatively, we could just keep the situation as it is and continue to lob verbal hand grenades at each other and call it good.

    • oregon nurse

      I don’t think language is the problem at all. We each know what the other is saying. It’s just there can be no meeting of the minds when one side thinks a fetus is a person and the other side thinks it’s a clump of cells or a human parasite the mother is free to rid herself of at any time.

      • BT

        Unfortunately, I’ve had way too many conversations with people on both sides to believe that.

      • Sharon Diehl

        What oregonnursey is really saying is that an embryo should be treated as a full blown human being–when up to 80% of all embryos simply miss a 6 to 12 day window of implantation and end up in the toilet.

        The death of embryos is a natural part of the procreation process in a woman’s reproductive system. This high rate of natural embryo loss brings into question the strident views of the forced-birthers, er, pro-lifers, who believe that every human embryo deserves equal status with human beings walking this earth. This is how personhood bills come about–attempts to take away a pregnant woman’s human being status–and bestow it on an embryo. If so many embryos die in the natural course of sexual activity, why should embryos merit equal treatment with human children and adults?

        See, BT, both sides understand each other perfectly, we just have different world views.

        • oregon nurse

          You’d still argue for the right to kill your baby even if every embryo implanted.

          I’m not even going to address the rest of your illogic about natural vs human intervention. You’re not interested in the truth only whatever it takes to justify your ideology.

          • Sharon Diehl

            Why should embryos merit equal treatment with human children and adults?

          • kathyschiffer

            Sharon, why should human children merit equal treatment with adults? By your standard, power would seem to be a determinant as to who should live; so why not kill children?

            I take your disregard for the helpless and the very young rather personally. In my family, my mother had trouble carrying babies to full term, I and my sisters and brother were all born prematurely. I was born a month and a day early; others, earlier than that. By your rules, I could have been killed. You deny God; but I say that He lives, and He has a plan for my life.

          • Sharon Diehl

            You’re making a strange irrational leap here, Schiffer, dear. Children and adults are sentient autonomous human beings, who have basic civil rights in our modern society.

            “The idea that a grown woman’s value and status can be equated with, or overridden by, a cluster of undifferentiated cells the size of the period at the end of this sentence is not only bizarre, it’s insulting. We are treading on dangerous moral and legal grounds when we exchange a woman’s actual rights in favor of an embryo’s theoretical rights.” Joyce Arthur

            Sweetie, my “rules” for myself are that every woman is an autonomous human being and has basic civil rights to her own body–I don’t tell them what they can and cannot do with their bodies, and no one tells me what I can and cannot do with my body. Now how in the world does that translate into your hysterical “By your rules, I could have been killed”?

            How nice for you that you are comforted by the thought that an invisible telepathic sky entity has a plan for your life. There are those of who have other spiritual concepts that we are quite happy with and don’t need catholic dogma ruining our lives, er, running our lives.

          • kathyschiffer

            Then since you name “sentience” as the factor which determines the intrinsic value of a woman’s life, I suppose you believe it’s acceptable to take the life of a person with mental disabilities? How about a person on the operating table, under the influence of anesthesia? How about a sleeping person? If not, why not?

          • Sharon Diehl

            Schiffer, sweetie, don’t be silly. A mentally disabled person, or a person on the operation table, is not residing inside of my body–I have nothing to do with them, and they have nothing to do with the contents of my womb.

            I’ll repeat here, dear: I make any and all decisions concerning all my lady parts. You make any and all decisions concerning your lady parts. It’s a simple concept.

          • Rob B.

            Sharon, sweetie, let me ask you a question: Does human life have intrinsic value or not?

          • Lark62

            People on this earth, breathing and not connected by a cable as a parasite off another have value, including women who have had sex.

          • Lark62

            Puhleeze. That “argument” requires that you ignore every word Sharon said.

            There is a moment when willful ignorance becomes lying.

          • Lark62

            Human children are breathing. Human childen can be cared for by other adults.
            The presence of a live child will not cause the death of another person.
            The presence of a live child will not permanently impact the health of another person or cause them be infertile.
            I could go on.

            An embryo or fetus without a human brain and functioning organs is not a person. Not yet.

            This doesn’t mean that someone can’t care about the fetus, and have dreams for it reaching the point where it becomes human. It just isn’t a human yet

          • Sharon Diehl

            I think every person who equates an embryo with a full-grown human being would benefit from reading an article by Toby Ord, 2008, The Scourge: Moral Implications of Natural Embryo Loss: The American Journal of Bioethics, 8(7): 12–19. http://www.amirrorclear.net/academic/papers/scourge.pdf

            Excerpts: “The ethical debates around abortion, IVF, and the procurement of human embryonic stem cells all depend on the moral status of the human embryo. Opponents of these practices frequently claim that embryos have full moral status from the moment of conception…..The majority of embryos die within a few weeks of conception. This fact is widely known within medical circles, but is a surprise to many in the general public….few people really believe that
            full moral status begins at conception.”

  • Grotoff

    God damns fetuses with incurable deformity and death, but we should listen to that demented bastard when it comes to how to deal with the problem?

    • Sharon Diehl

      I’ve been waiting for the biblical folk to respond to your very apt observation.

      • Lark62

        I’ll try for them:
        A) it gives other people a chance to show kindness (like there’s no way to show kindness otherwise)
        B) man has freewill (this masterful piece of non logic is also used when tornados hit elementary schools)
        C) man is sinful (this also causes earthquakes, ditto on logic)
        D) god is mysterious (so mysterious he could almost be make believe)

  • Reya

    Karen Santorum chose to take antibiotics that she knew would induce labor, thus killing her child. Same thing, different procedures.

  • Adolf Verloc

    There is much to be said for the line attributed to Diderot that “Man will not be free until the last king is strangled with the guts of the last priest.” Take your Catholic teaching and put it where the sun don’t shine.

    • Rob B.

      Oh yes, societies that promote atheism (Red China, the Soviet Union) are also the most free on earth…

      • Lark62

        And Sweden…

  • Pat Lambert

    The real issue here is your unquestioned belief in God, or a divine being, that herein presumably gives your pulpit ethos. However, “God is an ever-receding pocket of scientific ignorance that’s getting smaller and smaller and smaller as time moves on.” Re-examine the science behind the politics of your religion and it may strengthen your argument, or at least mitigate some of the inherent bias, as you cross-examine Rep. Davis’ book and path. I respect and admire the rights of our first amendment and your use of those powerful rights to religious freedom and the press/expression, but I’d argue that the “catholic teachings” and the real efficacy of your recommended application would not and could not effect the outcome/ development of the fetus and may refute your stance.

  • BHomes

    This article is bias, slanted and complete bull crap. We need to support each other in our own PERSONAL decisions and stop trying to force our beliefs on people who don’t share them.

  • Lindsey Leigh Phillips

    This is a perfect summation of why abortion is right for some and legal for all.
    (Also why i don’t let other people’s gods speak for my medical decisions.)