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Wrongful birth, wrongful life: SB1359 is anti-motherhood

If Karen Santorum — mother of six, wife of GOP presidential contender Rick Santorum — had been subjected to Arizona’s proposed “wrongful birth, wrongful life” legislation back in 1997, she could have very possibly died.

Doctors informed Karen back in 1996 during her 19th week of pregnancy that her unborn child had a fatal defect and would die if she attempted to carry the child to term. In an attempt to save the life of the child, Karen underwent a rare and risky surgical procedure. She herself became sick soon after the surgery, and according to her doctors, her life was in jeopardy.

As many know, the pro-life Santorums ultimately lost the child.

“If the physician came to me and said if we don’t deliver your baby in one hour you will be dead, yeah, I would have to do it,” Karen said to Steve Goldstein of the Philadelphia Inquirer in May 1997.

She said ultimately she would have agreed to intervention for the sake of her other children.

I am hoping that Sen. Nancy Barto and other Arizona legislators who are supporting SB1359 are merely ignorant of the potential outcomes of this proposal. I have to hope for that because otherwise I must draw the conclusion that they are interested in endangering the lives of mothers.

SB1359 encourages doctors to lie by withholding critical, life-saving information from their female patients or failing to perform necessary tests in the first place. Many of these women are already mothers who have other children they need to be there for.

If this legislation had been in effect in Pennsylvania at the time Karen was under doctors’ care — doctors who specialize in high-risk births — she very likely could have been given false information or no information at all about her medical condition. There is a very real chance she would have died as a result, leaving behind a husband and children.

Are Arizona’s legislators interested in mothers dying as a result of this legislation protecting doctors from malpractice suits? I sincerely hope not. I and many others around the country will be watching the outcome to see how many Arizona legislators truly care about women’s health and lives.

— Laura Sabransky


  1. Those Arizona legislators who supported this truly crazy bill are uneducated in medicine and have no business dictating women’s health issues and telling a doctor how he should do his/her work. This is very disturbing and puts women at great risk for harm and will make lawyers even richer.

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