When former Senator Rick Santorum’s daughter was still in the womb, he and his wife first heard those devastating words: “incompatible with life.” Doctors told them that their daughter Bella had Trisomy 18, and said that she simply wouldn’t survive.
But Bella was alive, and the couple refused to go through with an abortion. As it turned out, the doctors were incredibly wrong. Just recently Bella celebrated her 10th birthday.
“She is the happiest little girl in the world and is full of life,” Karen Santorum wrote in a Facebook post following the tragic death of British toddler Alfie Evans in April. Alfie’s case hit close to home for Santorum, given the tremendous power allotted to the medical experts who ultimately determined the disabled child’s fate, combined with her family’s personal experience with challenging the recommendations of healthcare professionals.
“What kind of a country gives their infants and children no chance at life?” she wrote back in April at the height of the controversy. “What kind of a country holds parents hostage and gives them no rights over the care of their children? What kind of a country euthanizes their children without fully understanding the medical diagnosis and possible treatments? What kind of a country places armed guards outside hospital doors?”
“What kind of a country denies parents the right to a priest and prayerful time at the bedside of their dying child? What kind of a country holds parents prisoner, and will not allow them to bring their sweet little boy home so he could die peacefully in their arms? What kind of a country will not carry the burdens of its weakest members?”
On May 13, Bella’s 10th birthday and Mother’s Day, Santorum took to Facebook to wish her daughter a happy birthday. Her words were beautiful:
“Ten years have gone by since your birth,” she wrote. “Ten years more than the skeptical and scientific said you would live. 87,648 hours of life, unexplained and miraculous. 3,652 days of letting all the world know that you are beautifully and wonderfully made!”
Now, Santorum is urging parents never to take the doctor’s word as gospel — they are humans who sometimes make mistakes, and you never truly know how a disabled child will fare in the world. She’s sure of one thing: choosing life for her precious daughter was the best decision she could have ever made.
Happy 10th Birthday Bella! You are an extremely joyful and exceptional little girl and we are so proud of you! Ten years…