Sympathy for the devil

I challenge anyone to provide a reputable source for this supposed quote attributed to GOP presidential hopeful Rick Santorum:

Abortion in any form is wrong, except for my wife. If your wife's life was at stake and the only thing that could save her was an abortion, well, too bad. Your wife will have to die. It was different with my wife. You see, I love her. I don't even know your wife's name.

I call bullshit on this whole story. It's spreading through the Internet like wildfire, no doubt because Rick Santorum is widely hated by social progessives. A story like this reinforces the narrative in the minds of those predisposed to dislike the former senator. It takes the bad guy and shows him to be even worse. And people repost it without thinking or checking its validity.

Reposting something like this is seductive. The post you're reading right now started as a condemnation of Santorum based on the allegations in that article. Fortunately, we here at Monochromatic Outlook believe that when wasting time reading political blogs on the Internet one should waste more time confirming the facts before wasting time writing a political blog post.

Kudos to Dan Savage (it's safe to say he's not a fan of Rick Santorum) for retracting his post on, citing lack of any credible source. Dan, you're a professional and you should have checked before you posted, but everyone makes mistakes. Not everyone corrects theirs. Good on ya.

I'd very much like to keep Rick Santorum away from public office, but spreading lies—especially one so vicious about a family tragedy—is not to be tolerated.



I do agree with you. Yes I was shocked to read that last sentenced. However, from experience on rushing to post article(s) that weren't credible bit me. I have learned to research the pharse before posting. I did go to Savage's link from your page to see for myself.

I did believe that he couldn't have said that 1) outloud and 2) say that unsincere pharse. So I thought the quotes weren't correct but hey people say the darnest things.

The original source for that quote was an editorial at  The editorialist was making the point that Santorum's wife actually had an abortion, even though Santorum says his family is staunchly pro-life, and invented the quote as a hypothetical.

The Cagle It's since been removed, but Google's got the cached version.

Here's the key excerpt.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Abortion in any form is wrong,” said Santorum in 2000, three years after the tragedy. He should have added, “Except for my wife. If your wife’s life was at stake...

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


Thanks for chiming in, Lou. I have a problem with the editorialist inventing the quote as hypothetical without an indication that it was hypothetical. But beyond that, it's not an established fact that the Santorum's wife ever had an abortion. The only reference I can find to it (other than reposts of this same article) is the New Yorker article, which states that they decided against having an abortion but later miscarried.

The only possible good that something like this can do is illustrate how easy it is to accuse a woman who miscarried of having aborted, and how distasteful and wrong it would be to make her prove that it really was a miscarriage, and that by extension since this blog post was a horrible fiction that we should prevent the  government from perpetrating a similar horrible fiction. But you wouldn't kill someone to protest the death penalty, would you? So why slander to protest the potential for future false accusations?

Without some source with firsthand knowledge claiming that the miscarriage was induced, this story shows nothing. If such a source comes forward I'll be the first to call Santorum a hypocrite. I'll even go out on a limb and say he's probably a hypocrite. But my opinion means diddly-squat unless I can back it up.

I have a problem with the editorialist inventing the quote as hypothetical without an indication that it was hypothetical.

Er, maybe you're misunderstanding the way that I quoted the editorial.  Everything between the two lines below comes from the editorial.



Abortion in any form is wrong,” said Santorum in 2000, three years after the tragedy. He should have added, “Except for my wife. If your wife’s life was at stake...


When the editorial writer says "He should have added," he's clearly saying that Santorum did not [but should have] said those words...

I agree that people shouldn't lie to further their political causes. In this case I think the people who screwed up were the people who used that quote (and not the editorialist who wrote it). Someone using that quote may have intentionally tried to knowingly pass off that made-up quote as a real quote. I imagine there are others who then re-quoted it in good faith, and who would not have done so if they'd genuinely known it wasn't a real quote.

If there was even a hint of truth to this story you could find it everywhere, including Wikipedia and the mainstream media. The media is no friend of Santorum.

The blogger that created this story did a far better job of creating this fiction than most fiction writers can do. That he worked so hard to make a plausible sounding lie is not to his credit. That he passed it off as true is despicable.


I hate having to defend this guy. If the media is no friend to Rick Santorum, the media has the right idea for once. I'd really like to help him find a nice job in the private sector and keep him out of government.

The story claims he's a hypocrite because his wife had an abortion. His wife was given medication for an infection that would otherwise have killed her. It was known that there was a chance that the medication would induce labor and terminate the pregnancy. It's perhaps a minor distinction because the complexity of medical situations makes it difficult to make accurate one-line characterizations of diagnoses and treatments, but I'll make the distinction anyway: a life-saving treatment that ends the pregnancy is not the same as an abortion to save the mother's life.

One would hope that this tragic experience would provide a somewhat nuanced position for Mr Santorum, and that he of all people should be aware that doctors should not be punished for making the best choices available to them.

In fact, a quick review of Santorum's voting record on the issue reveals that every anti-abortion bill he has voted for included exceptions for procedures which are medically necessary to preserve the life of the mother. There is no inconsistency between his position and the choices made by the Santorums and their doctors.

Interestingly, the antiabortion bills that Santorum voted for claim standing based on the interstate commerce clause of the US Constitution. That doesn't sound like the strict constructionist that Santorum claims to be. So there's your inconsistency, for whatever it's worth.