The couple have three children, ages 6, 4 and 1 1/2.
Santorum has been a prime sponsor of legislation in the Senate to ban partial-birth abortions, a procedure he has termed
``barbaric'' and ``legal infanticide''...
Karen was in her 19th week of pregnancy. Husband and wife were in a suburban Virginia office for a routine sonogram when
a radiologist told them that the fetus Karen was carrying had a fatal defect and was going to die.
After consulting with specialists, who offered several options including abortion, the Santorums decided on long-shot intrauterine
surgery to correct an obstruction of the urinary tract called posterior urethral valve syndrome.
A few days later, rare ``bladder shunt'' surgery was performed at Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia. The incision in
the womb carried a high risk of infection.
Two days later, at home in the Pittsburgh suburb of Verona, Karen Santorum became feverish. Her Philadelphia doctors instructed
her to hurry to Pittsburgh's Magee-Women's Hospital, which has a unit specializing in high-risk pregnancies.
After examining Karen, who was nearly incoherent with a 105-degree fever, a doctor at Magee led Santorum into the hallway
outside her room and said that she had an intrauterine infection and some type of medical intervention was necessary. Unless
the source of the infection, the fetus, was removed from Karen's body, she would likely die.
At minimum, the doctor said, Karen had to be given antibiotics intravenously or she might go into septic shock and die.
The Santorums were at a crossroads.
Once they agreed to use antibiotics, they believed they were committing to delivery of the fetus, which they knew would
most likely not survive outside the womb.
``The doctors said they were talking about a matter of hours or a day or two before risking sepsis and both of them might
die,'' Santorum said. ``Obviously, if it was a choice of whether both Karen and the child are going to die or just the child
is going to die, I mean it's a pretty easy call.''
Shivering under heated blankets in Magee's labor and delivery unit as her body tried to reject the source of the infection,
Karen felt cramping from early labor.
Santorum agreed to start his wife on intravenous antibiotics ``to buy her some time,'' he said.
The antibiotics brought Karen's fever down. The doctor suggested a drug to accelerate her labor.
``The cramps were labor, and she was going to get into more active labor,'' Santorum said. ``Karen said, `We're not inducing
labor, that's an abortion. No way. That isn't going to happen. I don't care what happens.' ''
As her fever subsided, Karen - a former neonatal intensive-care nurse - asked for something to stop the labor. Her doctors
refused, Santorum recalled, citing malpractice concerns.
Santorum said her labor proceeded without having to induce an abortion.
Karen, a soft-spoken red-haired 37-year-old, said that ``ultimately'' she would have agreed to intervention for the sake
of her other children.
``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,'' she said. ``But for me, it was at the very end. I would never make a decision like that until all other means had
been thoroughly exhausted.''
The fetus was delivered at 20 weeks, at least a month shy of what most doctors consider viability...