It’s hard to follow American politics from ten thousand miles away (I live in the rural Philippines, and we get the news a day late), but as a Democrat, I was bemused to read in today’s papers that Rick Santorum just won in the Republican primaries of Minnesota and Missouri.

Santorum? I wasn’t aware he was a viable candidate.

However, as a physician, I am aware of Rick Santorum’s family story, including the medical details of the loss of  son Gabriel, because the story was fairly well known in the medical community as an early case of interuterine surgery.

Little known factoid of the day:

Karen Santorum wrote a book, Letters to Gabriel, about the loss of the baby. The foreword to the book was by Blessed Teresa of Calcutta.

One would expect that such a loss would be respected by the press, but no. The  Santorums have been publicly ridiculed for mourning the loss of this handicapped child. But I am now waiting for the other shoe to drop, because the press just found out about Bella.


One only has to remember how ridiculing the mentally disabled became socially acceptable after Sarah Palin was nominated to be VP and the feministas found she had actually carried a disabled son to term instead of opting to abort him. How dare she! And Andrew Sullivan even suggested snidely it wasn’t her child, but her grandchild, completely clueless that when a grandmother sacrifices time and energy to help her teenager care for the grandchild it is a not scandal, but a mitzvah (been there, done that, as have many grandmothers including the grandmothers of Presidents Obama and Clinton).

Trig, who has Down’s syndrome, only has a moderate mental disability, but Santorum’s child Bella has trisomy 18, which is much more serious.

These children often die in the first  year of life because of heart, kidney, or lung problem,  although thirty years ago when I worked at a nursing home for retarded adults, we had several of them among our patients.

Here is an article about her in the Catholic Register:

The candidate told Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly that, “in many respects, one of the reasons I’m out here is because, you know, fighting for little kids like Bella, who, in many respects are, I think, are going to be left behind — whether it’s Obamacare or whether it’s a system where government is going to start to evaluate people not based on who they are or what they are, but what they can do.”…

A similar case arose shortly thereafter, in which a 3-year-old named Mia Rivera was allegedly turned down for a crucial kidney transplant because, according to her mother, the doctor said the girl is “retarded.”

A quick aside here: The need for financial help for these children’s medical care is one reason I support government health insurance for those who cannot afford to buy it.

But the dirty little secret of Obama care is that in the near future, we docs will have to follow government “guidelines” to get paid. One worries that soon QALY (Quality of life years) bias against the handicapped will not only be an individual predjudice of certain doctors and greedy insurance companies (that can be sued), but enabled by government bureaucrats (who are a lot harder to fight).

Photosource Santorum at youtube.

This is a photo of Bella and her dad from an article from the UKDaily Mail. which relates how he stopped campaigning in Florida to be at her side when she was sick.

And I find it ironic that stopping his campaign to be at his daughter’s side meant he lost in Florida, the news probably helped him to win the primaries in Missouri and Minnesota, both of which are important swing states for the Presidential election.

From what I read in the press, it seems that Santorum doesn’t have much of a chance to win the nomination over Governor Romney, who is the pick of the countryclub wing of the Republican Party.

No, Santorum doesn’t have a chance to win the nomination, but his very presence will bring up issues that will work against a Democratic party who seems intent on destroying those who believe in traditional values and has made a major gaffe in trying to boss around the Catholic church to go against it’s dogmas. No matter how much his minions in the press spin it, even those who don’t agree with Catholic dogma do see this as a major assault on the First Amendment.

So let the campaign begin.But one hopes that Obama’s advisor, David Axelrod, who also has struggled with his daughter’s stuggle with epilepsy, will stop his party’s minions from another travesty of heaping ridicule against a candidate because they care for and love their handicapped child.


Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines.  She blogs at

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