What Rick Santorum Actually Told Bob Schieffer on “Face the Nation”

By Dave Andrusko
http://twitter.com/daveha

Rick Santorum holds daughter Isabella

CBS’s Bob Schieffer, host of “Face the Nation,” is never going to be confused with a Republican sympathizer, nor is he likely to make any effort to understand what a pro-life Republican presidential candidate like Rick Santorum would be telling him.

If you missed “Face the Nation” on Sunday, Schieffer put Santorum through the wringer. He made not even a pretense at objectivity, acted as if he couldn’t possibly understand what Santorum had been saying, and constantly interrupting him.

For example, let’s take what the former Senator from Pennsylvania was saying; what he was trying to say; and what he was not saying about prenatal tests and amniocentesis.

Santorum did not tell Schieffer that all prenatal tests were bad nor did he say that none should be part of what health-insurance companies should cover under ObamaCare. In fact, he said, “there are all sorts of prenatal testing which should be provided free,” such as sonograms, if the insurance companies wanted to cover them, but that insurance companies should not be required to cover amniocentesis.

Santorum did say, ”Amniocentesis does, in fact, result more often than not in this country in abortions,” adding, “That is a fact.”

Some may have confused what Santorum was saying in his short-hand answer, or chose not to understand. He was not talking about all amniocentesis. He made that clear when he talked about the tragedy that 90% of women who receive a prenatal diagnose that their baby has Down syndrome go on to have an abortion.

As we have written about before, the Santorums have first-hand knowledge. Their youngest daughter, Bella, has Trisomy 18, a genetic disorder that often claims the child early in life. Bella is now three.

Schieffer then briefly segued to the death of the Santorums’ son, Gabriel, whom he referred to as “stillborn.” Schieffer conceded he had “misspoke” after Santorum explained that Gabriel had been born and survived a few hours. To Schieffer, this may have seemed to be a distinction without a difference.

Then Schieffer returned again to prenatal care where Santorum patiently explained yet again that “the idea of having, for example, sonograms and other types of prenatal care [covered]–absolutely, that is a wise thing to do. And if I was an employer, I would certainly encourage that. But not all prenatal testing. Amniocenteses basically are used for the purposes of identifying children who are disabled and in most cases end up as a result with abortions. It’s the bottom line.”

One other important, related item. A week ago, the Detroit Free Press ran a lovely story under the headline, “Rick Santorum’s advice helps metro Detroit family with Trisomy 18 child”—Brad and Jesi Smith.

In 2008 when an ultrasound “showed there might be something wrong with Jesi Smith’s pregnancy with Faith, her fifth child, doctors wanted to order an amniocentesis — a test of the amniotic fluid surrounding a baby in utero that can detect genetic disorders such as Trisomy 18 or Down syndrome,” wrote Kathleen Gray. The couple refused amniocentesis because they were not going to abort, regardless of what the test showed. “That is just not an option for us,” Jesi Smith said she told doctors. “We’re very pro-life.”

Following Faith’s birth subsequent tests revealed that Faith did have Trisomy 18. But the prognosis of a brief life did not detour her parents from battling for full medical treatment. They moved from one medical center when doctors were reluctant to repair three holes in Faith’s heart without going to an ethics board first to approve the surgery. (The holes healed themselves.)

Two years later, in 2010, Mr. Smith  attended a speech Santorum gave, and told him about Faith’s latest medical tribulations. Santorum patiently listened and listened and shared his experience of being the father of a child with Trisomy 18. Later when Faith’s condition turned dire, Mr. Smith, serpenditiously, ran into Santorum who dispensed some very helpful advice on how to help Faith.

There is much more to this beautiful story, more twists and turns, which you can read at www.freep.com/article/20120213/NEWS05/202130359/Rick-Santorum-s-advice-helps-metro-Detroit-family-with-Trisomy-18-child?odyssey=nav%7Chead.

But the bottom line is, “I can honestly say that if not for Rick Santorum, she would not be alive today,” Brad Smith told Kathleen Gray.”We wouldn’t have known what to ask for.”

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