Here we go again. Eugene Robinson went on Rachel Maddow to mock Rick Santorum for taking his deceased child home to meet its siblings:
Not everybody is not going to be down, for example, with the story of how he and his wife handled the stillborn child, whose body they took home to kind of sleep with and introduce it to the rest of the family. It’s a very weird story.
I’m not sure why this recurring story makes me so angry. But I can venture a few guesses.
It could be because I know someone whose child was stillborn, and she did something very similar: she invited friends to come see her baby and see how beautiful the baby was. This was someone who had trouble getting pregnant, and the blow was very difficult for her. (She later became pregnant again and had an absolutely beautiful daughter.) How could anyone second-guess the decisions she made while in such emotional pain?
It could be because my wife miscarried twice in the last two years — and my sister recently tried IVF and it failed. My wife and I have two beautiful children, and my sister has a wonderful son — and I know none of us will ever be sad about the blessings of our life. But after my wife and I lost the last baby — a pregnancy that really looked like it was going to take — a friend wrote that she thought “all 4 of your sweet babies” would always have a “special place in your hearts.” And she was right. How can Eugene Robinson know our feelings for our unborn children?
It could be because, increasingly, it seems that those in public life — especially Republicans — are seen as fair game for criticism of their most intimate decisions. Sarah Palin has a Down’s Syndrome child and is mocked. Rick Santorum brings home his child that died hours after his birth, and is mocked.
First, let’s dispense with the idea that this is objectively bizarre behavior. Allahpundit links advice from the American Pregnancy Association for parents of stillborn children — a situation very much like Santorum’s, whose child died after two hours of life:
After the tests are completed, you will usually have the choice to spend time alone with your baby. You can find comfort in looking at, touching, and talking to your baby. Most parents find it helpful to make memories of this precious time that will last a lifetime…
With the loss of your baby, your family members will also grieve. Your baby is someone’s granddaughter, brother, cousin, nephew or sister. It is important for your family members to spend time with the baby. This will help them come to terms with their loss. If you have other children, it is very important to be honest with them about what has happened by using simple and honest explanations. It is your decision whether you would like the children to see the baby. Ask for a Child Life Specialist at the hospital; these are trained professionals who can help you prepare your children for the heartbreaking news, and prepare them to see the baby if you wish.
So, not only it is not “weird” behavior, it is recommended behavior that helps the other children deal with the loss. If you haven’t yet read the sentiments recently expressed by my commenter Leviticus, they are worth a read:
Santorum’s wife gave birth to a child. When she did (and, to my mind, even before she did), Santorum’s other children had a baby brother.
When that baby died, the other children lost their baby brother. What were the Santorums to do? Pretend that the other children never had a baby brother? No. The kids might not have understood at the time, but they would eventually; and, young as they were, they had a stake in the matter, a right to know.
The alternative – the only really acceptable alternative – was to tell them that a child had lived and breathed as their brother, to memorialize him. But it would be difficult to communicate that message to young child with mere words. So, they brought his body home; the words became unnecessary.
Those children will always remember their brother; and thoughts of the mystery, sanctity, tragedy, and brevity of human life will be indelibly stamped on their consciousness – a trait sorely lacking in many modern men and women. What bothers the most calloused members of the pro-choice crowd is the intuitive (though ever unacknowledged) realization that some people really do feel love for a child that they don’t know, for the “simple” reason that it was their own, however briefly – that some people really do respect and realize how sacred that bond is, and that they… don’t.
But the problem is not just that some leftists can’t understand the love that some people feel for their unborn children — or for their children who (like Sarah Palin’s son Trig) were born with disabilities. What really infuriates is the contempt they show for parents who make different choices than they would . . . and the smug arrogance with which they pronounce judgment on the most intimate aspects of others’ private lives.
What Robinson has done, and what Colmes did the other day, is indecent. These men would never say such a thing to Santorum’s face. (Or maybe they would — which is possibly even worse.) What sickness has invaded our body politic that people feel free, not only to act the cretin, but to do so on national television while sporting insufferable, supercilious, self-satisfied smirks like those we have seen on the mugs of Colmes and Robinson in recent days?
In short: how dare they? How dare they?!
There is something wrong with a system that expects people to undergo such indignities to attain high office. I’m not a fan of Rick Santorum as a candidate, but the treatment he has received in recent days regarding an intensely personal decision is a disgrace.
UPDATE x2: Thanks to Instapundit, Michelle Malkin, and Mark Levin for the links.