Let’s Get Our Facts Straight

by damnedhippie

In October, 1996, his wife Karen had a second trimester abortion.  They don’t like to describe it that way.

-Ellen Shaffer, Our Silver Blog

They don’t like to describe it that way becauseit wasn’t that way. The Santorums did not have a second trimester abortion. In fact, they went to foolhardy, heroic lengths to try to save the life of the fetus. Karen went under the knife to attempt to clear the urinary tract of the fetus. The operation resulted in a life-threatening infection that caused her to go into labor. The doctors recommended drugs to induce heavier contractions to speed along the delivery. She refused. Karen requested drugs to make the labor stop. The doctors refused. Their son died two hours after it was born.

That is not an abortion. That is a spontaneous live birth.

Rick Santorum’s position on abortion is reprehensible. It is also consistent, both internally and with his actions. In this instance my side, the pro-choice side, has failed at consistency. The story of a rabidly anti-choice politician’s wife getting a “partial-birth” abortion was just too delicious to not go viral. Lousy Canuck reposted Shaffer’s post. Greta Christina reposted that on her Facebook wall (with 26 shares at last count). Who knows how far it has gone beyond that. In our enthusiasm, though, we have failed at consistency on two counts:

1. Claims require evidence in proportion to their exception. Simply reading Shaffer’s post all the way to the end gives lie to its headline, as she copied and pasted the account  from the Philadelphia Inquirer. That has to be the easiest fact-check ever, and either ideology or laziness caused at least two big-name free-thought bloggers to fail even that.

2. We have said over and over that late-term abortions result from tragic circumstances that call for sympathy, not judgement. Shaffer herself said

Losing a pregnancy because of a fatal fetal anomaly is never cause for celebration. The pain of second-trimester abortions is compounded by the hateful hypocrites who vilify families facing sorrowful circumstances, and the resulting scarcity of abortion clinicians.

It is revolting that Rick and Karen Santorum choose to stigmatize and harass those of us who, as they did, grieve over the loss of a possible child in the second trimester.

Those tragic circumstances don’t magically not cause pain when they happen on the other side of the ideological divide. To have one’s failed pregnancy deceitfully twisted into political ammunition is, at the very least, troubling. Those not inclined to give the benefit of the doubt would call it revolting.

Rick and Karen Santorum recklessly put their children’s mother in death’s shadow to save their pregnancy. Attempting by force of law to make others in the same circumstance do the same is, no doubt, barbaric, and we need to fight against it. In our fight, however, we absolutely need to be honest. There are very good reasons to make abortion safe, legal, and available to all women. The hypocrisy of the Santorums is not one of them.