I’ve been a bit zoned out of this race for the Republican presidential nomination, but I’ve known one thing for a very long time: I don’t like Rick Santorum.
He’s sexist (thinks women should stay at home and not work; he wants to eliminate federal funding for contraception; and don’t worry, his stance on abortion is the meat of this blog post); he’s racist (saying just last week in Iowa that he doesn’t want to “make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money”; he also said last year that Obama should be anti-abortion because he’s black, which could be taken in several racism-driven directions); and he’s homophobic (he wants the tax code to reward traditional, heterosexual married couples; he’s compared homosexuality to loving your mother-in-law, incest, adultery, polygamy, and bigamy).
Keeping with his tendency to spout complete bullshit out of his mouth that makes no sense at all, it’s impossible to ignore his stance on abortion. That it should be banned even in cases of rape and incest; that he thinks exceptions to save the life of the mother are bogus; and even that abortion is to blame for Social Security problems.
Which is why I find it so interesting that his own wife suffered pregnancy complications that threatened her own life, leading to the induced delivery of a fetus that was not, and would have never been, viable. There is debate on whether this was an abortion (his wife went into early labor, and doctors induced further rather than trying to stop the labor), but I agree with Jezebel’s Erin Gloria Ryan on this: The real problem here is extremists who outright condemn something like, say, taking any medical steps to save the life of the mother if those will harm the fetus — that is, until that fetus is harming someone who they care about.
Because really, it’s easy to stand at a podium and say abortion is murder, but it’s more complicated than that. Many abortions, especially late-term abortions, are because of medical complications that threaten the mother’s life and/or make the fetus inviable. Karen Santorum’s fetus was actually becoming an infection that would inevitably become fatal, so how would letting her die be some heroic move? How are all-out abortion bans anything but a manifestation of stubbornness, an unwillingness to admit that, yes, unfortunately, the body can naturally struggle with a pregnancy? Things go wrong, and the priority should be ensuring that the mother doesn’t die in the process.
But it’s different when suddenly it’s not some un-wed teenage mother trying to get an abortion — suddenly, it’s your sister; your wife; your friend; suddenly, politicians are faced with the shocking fact that pregnancies with complications can happen to them, and that women — who have only been seen as baby incubators in campaign speeches — actually have names, faces, families, and futures. That life-saving procedures aren’t just “tactics” to foil abortion bans, but they are “tactics” to save lives.
I think that’s about the end of my rant — anti-abortion politicians aren’t my cup of tea, but those who want all-out abortion bans, even when the mother’s life is in danger, really baffle me. But I think when actually faced with a situation where these politicians’ relatives and loved ones were the women who might die without medical intervention — which would subsequently end the pregnancy — they wouldn’t be singing the same tune.
As Ryan said it best, this is called “hypocrisy,” so I’ll add yet another thing to list of reasons why I don’t like Rick Santorum: He’s a hypocrite.