The Santorum Family's Witness to Life

Former Senator and 2012 presidential hopeful Rick Santorum recently released a campaign ad called “Family”. Although it starts out similar to many campaign ads, it does not finish that way.

The reason is Isabella “Bella” Maria Santorum. Bella is the daughter of Rick and Karen Santorum, their eighth child. Shortly after birth, she was diagnosed with Trisomy 18, a rare disease that closely resembles down-syndrome. Doctors told Rick and Karen that Bella’s life expectancy was a matter of only hours or days. In a sterile and condescending manner, the medical community told Rick and Karen “She’s not going to be able to do much. She’s not going to able to be like normal children. You should just let her go.”

The Santorum’s are no strangers to tragedy. They lost one child, Gabriel, only two hours after birth, recounted in a beautiful reflection by Karen that became a best-seller book called, “Letters to Gabriel”. And that’s the incredible thing about this story: the Santorum family did not view Bella as a “tragedy”. To them, she’s not a “problem,” and not a “hindrance”. She’s a human person. She’s their daughter. As Santorum says, “We’re the disabled ones, not her. She’s got it right.” They decided that they were “not going to focus on her dying we’re going to focus on her living. And we’re going to do everything we can to help her.”

The medical community told them that Bella would not be a “normal child”. What exactly is a “normal child”? I’m sure any kid will tell you that his or her brother or sister is definitely “weird” and not normal. This utilitarian view of life as something subject to breeding, producing only those children that meet the arbitrary standards of today’s culture as functioning and “normal” is not only at the core of the mission of organizations such as Planned Parenthood, but also stands in direct opposition to the culture of Life. The Santorum’s knew better. Every life is precious. Pro-life activists unjustly receive criticism for supposedly not caring about the child after it’s born. This video by the Rick Santorum, who was one of the Senate’s most outspoken and ardent pro-life legislators, proves such accusations false.

In a country where 90% of unborn children diagnosed with down syndrome are aborted due a dangerous combination of cultural stigmas and pressure coming from doctors who say that these children are hindrances and not worth the effort to raise, the Santorum family stands out as a beautiful example of what it means to be pro-life.