Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Karen’s Story

According to this story in the Daily Beast, Karen Santorum had an interesting life before she met and married Rick Santorum.

Karen Santorum, the ultra-pro-life wife and mother of seven home-schooled children, has been the perfect complement to her husband, Rick, as he chases the Republican presidential nomination. On the campaign trail, the candidate often refers to her book, Letters to Gabriel, the story of the devoutly Catholic couple’s traumatic late-term 1997 miscarriage (the 20-week-old fetus lived two hours outside the womb). The couple opposes birth control as well as abortion, even in cases of rape.

But Mrs. Santorum, 51, apparently wasn’t always committed to the cause. In fact, her live-in partner through most of her 20s was Tom Allen, a Pittsburgh obstetrician and abortion provider 40 years older than she, who remains an outspoken crusader for reproductive rights and liberal ideals. Dr. Allen has known Mrs. Santorum, born Karen Garver, her entire life: he delivered her in 1960.

The only reason I’m bringing this up and giving it any time at all is because unlike some people I know, I am not going to sit in judgment on Mrs. Santorum and her life choices in the past or the present. And while she has not made any effort to hide her past, it’s really not relevant that she made choices as an adult that might seem to be at odds with the life she lives now. Whatever. People grow and change, and Mrs. Santorum has obviously made a change in her life.

What is telling is the inevitable outrage that will come from Mrs. Santorum’s defenders who call this a smear against her. That’s based on the assumption that there is something wrong with a woman living with a man who happens to be a few years older than she and who was an abortion provider. It’s the same kind of outrage that pops up when an anti-gay campaigner comes out of the closet. It may not be to their liking, but they’re assuming there is something wrong with it.

Besides, this kind of redemption story is exactly what the evangelicals love. It would make a perfectly wonderful saccharin-rich movie of the week on CBN about the wanton girl who came to Jesus. Call it something like Karen’s Story, sign up Glynnis O’Connor and Robby Benson, and you’ve got a tale worth running during Easter week. Pure ratings gold, and the residuals might make a dent in the campaign debt.