Rick Santorum and his Daughter, Isabella

The Republican primary season is heating up, and I know I need to make a decision on whom to support. I’ll admit that none of the candidates is totally inspiring me. I’ll like one, then something will come out to diminish that enthusiasm. When Santorum surged recently, I was initially excited: was he a true conservative to rival Mitt Romney’s worrying moderate, scarily McCain-like (in my opinion) tendencies?

I don’t think Santorum is my candidate. He is great on social issues, but the more I learn about him, the less I like the high level of government spending and involvement he advocates. But there are things about Rick Santorum on a personal level that I can’t help but be impressed by.

Rick and his wife, Karen, have had eight children. One, Gabriel, was born prematurely and lived just two hours. Their last child (not pictured above), Isabella, has a genetic handicap called Trisomy 18 or Edwards Syndrome. Isabella is three, and has beaten the odds by surviving even that long. 90% of babies with this defect don’t even survive until birth. Just 10% of those who are born make it until their first birthday.

Trisomy 18 occurs in 1 of every 3000-6000 births and affects 3 times more girls than boys. Instead of 2 copies of chromosome 18, which is normal, babies with this defect have 3. There’s nothing that can prevent or lower the risk of having a child with this syndrome, although chances are greater for older moms. Karen Santorum is 51, so she was most likely 47 or 48 when Isabella was born. That in itself is a witness to me. How many moms at her age would even give their babies life?

Bella, as the family calls her, was an important consideration to Santorum in deciding to even run for President. “Life expectancy wasn’t particularly long, and just the idea of going off and doing something like this was something I really struggled with,” he said. But Bella was an inspiration to run against Obama’s healthcare plan, which Santorum fears would hurt her and other children with special needs: “The resources aren’t allocated because it is very costly, and my little girl would probably be seen as — I hear, not only from anecdotal but actual evidence from other countries — that children like this simply do not get care.”

I greatly admire the Santorums (and Sarah Palin’s family as well) for their commitment to life and to those whose lives may not be deemed valuable by our society. “I look at her (Bella), and I look at the joy, and the simplicity, and the love that she emits, and it’s clear to me that we’re the disabled ones, not her,” Santorum says in a campaign ad. “She’s got it right.”

On a similar note, Cal Thomas’ brother Marshall, who had Down Syndrome, recently died. I dare you to read about his life and still say those with disabilities shouldn’t have as much right to life as the rest of us.

6 thoughts on “Rick Santorum and his Daughter, Isabella

  1. He is the most honest and moral person to have run for US President, I swear, in a hundred years or more…with good support people as his staff, how can he not be the best candidate for a more stable and respectable America?

  2. My heart goes out to Rick Santorum and his family who are dealing with the challenges of a severely disabled child.
    However, having EIGHT children is irresponsible and indulgent.

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