Who Is Rick Santorum's Wife, Karen Garver Santorum? The Author Has A Fairly Unexpected Alleged Past

Former Republican Sen. Rick Santorum, from Pennsylvania, announced his presidential campaign Wednesday. This will be his second attempt at the Republican nomination since he suspended his campaign while competing with Mitt Romney in 2012. He will have the full support of his family, which includes his wife and their seven children. But who is Rick Santorum's wife, Karen Garver Santorum? She is a staunchly Catholic woman and author with quite an interesting past, which was thoroughly criticized by media during her husband's last run.

There isn't a lot of publicly available information about Karen's life before her marriage to Rick. According to Examiner.com, she was a neonatal nurse while attending law school at the University of Pittsburgh. She met Rick after becoming an intern at Kirkpatrick & Lockhart, the law firm where Rick worked, according to the Daily Mail. They were married in 1990, and had their first child, Elizabeth Anne Santorum, in 1991.

The little information that is alleged about Karen's life prior to her marriage is pretty sticky. The couple is known for their stringent Catholicism and strict opposition to same-sex marriage and abortion, even in cases of rape, according to the Daily Mail. Thus, when it emerged in 2012 that an abortion doctor had claimed to date Karen before she met Rick, things got pretty crazy. Tom Allen, who died at age 93 two years ago, told Newsweek in 2012 that he had known Karen her entire life — he even delivered her as a baby in 1960. He remained a friend of her family's, he said, until she called him looking for advice on finding housing in Duquesne, where she would attend school for nursing. Allen said Karen moved into his basement and the two allegedly began a six-year long affair in 1982, when Karen was 22 and Allen was 63, according to Newsweek.

The Santorums have never responded to requests for comment about Karen's relationship with Allen.

Allen started one of the first hospital-sanctioned abortion clinics in Pittsburgh and helped secure the first $50,000 Planned Parenthood grant in 1973 that established Women's Health Services in the area, according to his obituary in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Allen told Newsweek that Karen allegedly "had no problems" with what he did for a living. He added the two ended their relationship in 1988 because Karen wanted children and that was something Allen "had already done," he said. In an interview with the Philadelphia City Paper in 2005, Allen claimed Karen characterized Rick as a "humanist":

When she moved out to go be with Rick, she told me I'd like him, that he was pro-choice and a humanist. But I don't think there's a humanist bone in that man's body.

Once Karen married Rick, they immediately started a family and she never practiced law, according to Newsweek. Rick became one of the most staunch anti-abortion legislators in Congress, saying that doctors who perform abortions should be "criminally charged for doing so," that a threat to a pregnant woman's health shouldn't be an allowed exemption for abortion, and that "most dangerous place for an African-American in this country is in the womb."

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The most publicly visible part of Karen's marriage to Rick came in 1996, when the Santorum's fourth child, Gabriel Michael Santorum, died tragically just after birth. Early tests had revealed that the fetus had a defect, and they decided to have a risky surgery performed to fix it while the fetus was still in Karen's womb, according to Examiner.com. Karen became very ill after the surgery, and doctors determined that both Karen and the fetus could die from infection if the fetus wasn't removed. Thus, in order to save her life, the Santorums allowed a doctor to induce labor at 20 weeks. The baby survived for two hours, and Karen wrote a book about the loss called Letters To Gabriel: The True Story of Gabriel Michael Santorum, which was released in 1998 with a foreword written by Mother Teresa.

During Rick's 2012 run, Karen told Glenn Beck that she initially opposed her husband's run for the Republican nomination because of his unsuccessful bid for reelection to his Senate seat in 2006. But she said President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act made her change her mind, according to The Huffington Post:

I did always feel in my heart that God had big plans for Rick. Eventually it was there, tugging at my heart. ... When Obamacare passed, that was it. That put the fire in my belly.
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She said her opposition to Obamacare was largely due to her youngest daughter Bella's genetic condition, which causes her to become sick often and has even resulted in her hospitalization, according to The Washington Post:

This is why we're making the sacrifice we are as a family, to give all. Because I do believe that if President Obama is elected again, I do believe we're going to lose our nation as we know it. As a mother of 7, I'm really concerned about that.

The Santorums have since written Bella's Gift, which is about Bella's condition and their marriage. It was released in February. Karen has yet to speak publicly about Rick's second presidential bid.

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