Former senator’s daughter discusses gift of life, sister Bella’s story

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Students from Shanley High School in Fargo, N.D., St. Mary's High School in Bismarck, N.D., and Bishop Ryan High School in Minot, N.D., carry the lead banner during the annual March for Life in Washington Jan. 22. Nearly 500 students from North Dakota Catholic schools participated in this year's event. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)
Students from Shanley High School in Fargo, N.D., St. Mary’s High School in Bismarck, N.D., and Bishop Ryan High School in Minot, N.D., carry the lead banner during the annual March for Life in Washington Jan. 22. Elizabeth Santorum, eldest daughter of former senator and presidential candidate Rick Santorum, participated in the march along with thousands of others. She spoke to CNS about the pro-life message of the forthcoming book she co-authored with her parents. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)

WASHINGTON (CNS) — For Elizabeth Santorum and her family, this year’s March for Life theme of “Every Life Is a Gift” has special significance.

The oldest daughter of former senator and presidential candidate Rick Santorum is co-author with her dad and mom, Karen, of the forthcoming book “Bella’s Gift: How One Little Girl Transformed Our Family and Inspired a Nation.”

The book “fits in perfectly with the theme of the march this year,” she said.

It is about her youngest sister, Bella, who suffers from Trisomy 18, a rare genetic disorder that is often considered fatal.

Elizabeth, the Santorums’ oldest daughter, spoke to Catholic News Service Jan. 22, the day of the march, about why she was there, the message of the book and what she has to other young people about the pro-life movement.

“I think at the March for Life, we’re obviously out here for the unborn children in the womb, to give them the chance for life, because every child deserves a chance,” she said.

“They deserve a chance to live out their unique dignity as a human being, but also because of the message for women, that this process is also horrific for the women involved with the process, so I’m here as well for the mothers as the babies,” she added.

Regarding “Bella’s Gift,” “my parents said that the message of the book … is that every life matters,” said Elizabeth, who joined at the march by her parents, her sister Sarah, brothers Peter, John and Patrick, and her boyfriend, Matthew Marcolini.

About her sister’s genetic disorder, she told CNS: “Ninety-nine percent of children diagnosed with her condition don’t make it to birth, in large part because of abortion, so we’re out here today at the march for many broader-reaching reasons, but also because of what we wrote the book on: because of my sister.”

When he was a speaker at the 2013 March for Life rally, her father told the crowd that he and his wife were encouraged to abort their daughter Bella, because “she was going to be saddled with disabilities and it would be better for her. But we all know that death is never better. … She makes us better.”

Elizabeth Santorum had a message for all the young people at this year’s march: “Keep marching! Keep fighting, because our generation is the pro-life generation. I really believe that this holocaust will be ended before our time is over.”

— By Nate Madden, Catholic News Service. 

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