Rick Santorum‘s wife Karen, before their marriage, was living in an unmarried relationship with the founder of Pittsburgh’s first abortion clinic in the 1970′s, left the doctor to marry Santorum, and at the time both Karen and Rick Santorum claimed to be pro-choice. Further, the doctor, OBGYN Tom Allen, is the same man who actually delivered Karen Santorum (then Karen Garver,) and is 40 years her senior.
(Editorial note: Rick Santorum’s attacks on the lives and relationships of unmarried people, including but not limited to people within the LGBT community, we feel allow for this level of scrutiny on both his past and that of his family. The Santorums’ life choices certainly are theirs to make, but building a political career attacking the lives of good, decent, LGBT Americans, pledging to “die on the hill” to stop same-sex marriage equality is not one of them. We’re not judging their choices, as fervently as we disagree with them, we’re highlighting their hypocrisy and their mistaken view that they have the right to judge us for who we are.)
A lengthy 2005 profile in a local Philadelphia newspaper, which includes an interview with Santorum, quotes Dr. Allen, Karen’s former boyfriend:
“When she moved out to go be with Rick, she told me I’d like him, that he was pro-choice and a humanist,” said Allen, an elderly but vibrant man, during a brief conversation on the porch of his Pittsburgh row home. “But I don’t think there’s a humanist bone in that man’s body.”
The profile also reveals that both of Rick Santorum’s parents worked for the federal government, the Veterans Administration, and were housed on the grounds of the VA hospital. Santorum’s father was the chief of psychology, his mother the chief of nurses, the profile reveals. So much for Santorum being able to understand current medical stances on homosexuality, and so much for Santorum’s position on small government.
Ironically, the profile (remember, this is from 2005,) includes this line:
“He had Republican values,” adds U.S. Rep. Tom Feeney, another college friend of Santorum’s. “But it’s not like he was running around leading conservative jihads or anything.”
The profile also adds:
Santorum’s views on abortion changed around this time as well, recalls [Rick's] cousin.
“Our extended family has many strong women in it, who are intelligent and outspoken. There was one year Rick stopped by a family reunion for an hour or two. It was around the time he was ‘rising to power’ and becoming rabidly, ridiculously conservative. His views on abortion were quite contentious that year, and for those few hours of his visit, the women all descended upon him like flies, calling him on his change of views. He had always been pro-choice to my recollection. That’s why it was such a heated issue that year. The women in my family felt betrayed.”
A Washington Post profile of Karen Santorum, published today, notes, Karen “recalls their first meeting: He was the lawyer at the big firm, she was the law student. She says that she was the headstrong career woman. ‘But I came home that night and wrote in my diary that I had met the man I was going to marry.’ As hard as it may be to picture, she says, ‘He sang all the way to the restaurant’ on their first date.”
In this 2006 video, released by true Santorum campaign, Karen Santorum says, “I think it’s really sad, I think it’s tragic, that our opponent would use my family, go after my children, in the way he has, for political gain.”
Lost on Mrs. Santorum is how she and her husband are going after our families, our children every day, for political gain. The scales are severely unbalanced.
Carole Joffee, a University of California, San Francisco professor, in her article, “Collision of Reality and Ideology: Karen Santorum’s Past and Rick Santorum’s Vision of Your Future,” writes,
Normally, I feel that the past sexual history of a candidate’s spouse should be off limits to journalists and bloggers. But given Santorum’s rising fortunes as a serious candidate for the presidency, and in particular, his astonishing views on sexuality and contraception, I believe that attention to Karen Santorum’s past is warranted in this instance.
What does all this have to with Karen Santorum’s past, before her marriage to the Senator? In simplest terms, Mrs. Santorum was living in a situation–unmarried but cohabitating, and presumably using birth control—that has become only more common in American society since the late 1980s, when she lived with Dr. Allen. (Indeed, the only difference between Karen Santorum and millions of other Americans in similar circumstances, then and now, was the unusually large gap in age between her and her partner).
In short, Rick Santorum’s stated policy positions, which include not only his well known obsession with abolishing legal abortion, but also his opposition to birth control and all nonprocreative sexual acts, are greatly out of step with the lives of the vast majority of Americans. Clearly, the Santorums have changed their views over time on the issues of premarital sex and contraception as well as abortion, moving in a far more conservative direction. The couple has attributed these changes to a deepening religious faith, and such new beliefs are of course their right. But the Senator’s fervent desire to deny the rest of us the sexual and reproductive choices that his own wife once enjoyed is breathtakingly hypocritical and cruel.
Editor’s note: In an earlier version of this article, the first sentence incorrectly read:
“Rick Santorum‘s wife Karen, before their marriage, was living in an unmarried relationship with the founder of Pittsburgh’s first abortion clinic in the 1970′s, left the doctor to marry Santorum, and at the time both Karen and Rick Santorum claimed to be pro life.”
It has been corrected to read “pro-choice.”
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