The Anti-Fornication, Anti-Abortion Wife of Rick Santorum Lived Very Differently in Her 20s

What Women Really Think
Jan. 17 2012 5:01 PM

Karen Santorum's Impure Youth

Karen and Rick Santorum.
Rick Santorum talks with his wife Karen Santorum

T.J. Kirkpatrick/Getty Images.

Rick and Karen Santorum really take the cake in the "do as I say, not as I do" department. Building on earlier revelations that the Santorums themselves considered abortion for health reasons while Rick Santorum worked diligently to deny that right to others is the new revelation that Karen Santorum spent most of her 20s living with her much-older boyfriend out of wedlock. Oh yeah, and that boyfriend was an outspoken abortion provider, the kind of person her husband would very much like to throw in jail.

The detail in this story that seems to be grossing people out the most is that Karen, whose last name was Garver when she was living openly as the kind of fornicator she and her husband now claim is so sinful the government should work against you, was actually delivered by her boyfriend Tom Allen when she was born in 1960. I'm from a small town, so that probably doesn't have the effect on me that it does on people who aren't used to some of the uncomfortably close romantic entanglements people can get in. That this detail captures people's attention suggests that we've become a little too inured to the hypocrisy of right wingers who carry on---and Rick Santorum is the worst---about how the government should restrict contraception access and teach abstinence-only because sex outside of marriage is sinful and how abortion providers should be subject to criminal penalties. It's worth noting that when it comes to the black markets of the sort that conservatives wish to create around abortion, girlfriends and partners often get caught up in police stings, so if the laws the Santorums want were in place back then, it may not just have been Dr. Allen in danger but also a young Karen Garver. But even if not, since she lived with him for so long, she basically benefitted materially from "abortion money" he earned providing abortions, money that helped pay for her housing, if nothing else. 

Advertisement

This entire story reveals why the collapse between personal belief and policy advocacy is making this country collectively stupider by the minute. The defense of the Santorums in light of Karen's past as the lover of an abortion provider is to brush it off and say people's beliefs change. And sure, she has every right to feel that her past was a mistake and to seek forgiveness from her God for her fornicating ways. The problem, of course, is that Karen and Rick Santorum want to take away the rights of others to do as they did and seek their own paths. They have every right to preach their religious dogma wherever they want. The problem is that Santorum continues to advocate for writing his and his wife's strange religious beliefs into law, even as they themselves weren't prepared as young people to pay the legal consequences for not adhering to their particular faith. It's a shame that such a fuss is being made over Karen Santorum's past. In a sane world, we'd be allowed to have our private lives be private. But since the Santorums want to strip you of your right to sexual privacy in order to have the government micromanage your sex lives, it's high time she be held to the standard she wants for you. After all, she's benefitted long enough from the freedoms that she and her husband want to take away from everyone else. 

Amanda Marcotte is a Brooklyn-based writer and DoubleX contributor. She also writes regularly for the Daily Beast, AlterNet, and USA Today. Follow her on Twitter.

TODAY IN SLATE

Medical Examiner

Here’s Where We Stand With Ebola

Even experienced international disaster responders are shocked at how bad it’s gotten.

Why Are Lighter-Skinned Latinos and Asians More Likely to Vote Republican?

A Woman Who Escaped the Extreme Babymaking Christian Fundamentalism of Quiverfull

The XX Factor
Sept. 22 2014 12:29 PM A Woman Who Escaped the Extreme Babymaking Christian Fundamentalism of Quiverfull

Subprime Loans Are Back

And believe it or not, that’s a good thing.

It Is Very Stupid to Compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice

Building a Better Workplace

In Defense of HR

Startups and small businesses shouldn’t skip over a human resources department.

How Ted Cruz and Scott Brown Misunderstand What It Means to Be an American Citizen

Divestment Is Fine but Mostly Symbolic. There’s a Better Way for Universities to Fight Climate Change.

  News & Politics
Politics
Sept. 22 2014 6:30 PM What Does It Mean to Be an American? Ted Cruz and Scott Brown think it’s about ideology. It’s really about culture.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 22 2014 5:38 PM Apple Won't Shut Down Beats Music After All (But Will Probably Rename It)
  Life
Outward
Sept. 22 2014 4:45 PM Why Can’t the Census Count Gay Couples Accurately?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 22 2014 7:43 PM Emma Watson Threatened With Nude Photo Leak for Speaking Out About Women's Equality
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus
Sept. 22 2014 1:52 PM Tell Us What You Think About Slate Plus Help us improve our new membership program.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 22 2014 9:17 PM Trent Reznor’s Gone Girl Soundtrack Sounds Like an Eerie, Innovative Success
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 22 2014 6:27 PM Should We All Be Learning How to Type in Virtual Reality?
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 22 2014 4:34 PM Here’s Where We Stand With Ebola Even experienced international disaster responders are shocked at how bad it’s gotten.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.