Karen Garver Santorum, Rick Santorum’s Wife: 5 Fast Facts

Karen Garver Santorum, Rick Santorum’s Wife: 5 Fast Facts


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Former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA), with wife Karen (R), daughter Bella, 7, and the rest of the family, announces his candidacy for the 2016 Republican nomination for president at Penn United Technologies May 27, 2015 in Cabot, Pennsylvania, This is the second run for Santorum, who finished runner-up in 2012 to nominee Mitt Romney.

Rick Santorum’s wife, Karen Garver Santorum, has stood by his side amidst political upheaval and personal battles. The two have been married for more than three decades.

Rick Santorum, a former U.S. Senator and current CNN commentator, is facing fierce backlash for comments that are being called racist toward Native Americans. He told the Young American’s Foundation “there isn’t much Native American culture in American culture.” You can watch a video of his full comments here or later in this post.

Rick and Karen Santorum were married in 1990. They have seven children, including a daughter with special needs named Isabella or “Bella.”

Here’s what you need to know:


1. Karen & Rick Santorum Have 7 Children & Have Been Married for 30 Years

karen santorumkaren santorum

GettyKaren Santorum listens as her husband former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum speaks during the Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on August 28, 2012 in Tampa, Florida.

Karen Garver and Rick Santorum were married in 1990, and started their family soon after, according to NPR. They have seven children, including Bella, who has special needs. Their fourth child of eight, Gabriel Michael Santorum, died soon after his birth in 1996. Their living children are Elizabeth, Richard John Jr, Daniel, Gabriel, Sarah, Peter, Patrick and Isabella.


2. Karen Santorum Is a Registered Nurse With Degrees in Both Nursing & Law

Karen Garver graduated from the Western Pennsylvania Hospital School of Nursing in 1983, becoming a registered nurse, according to The Sun. After graduation, she worked in the neonatal intensive care unit.

At that time, she was also a law student. She worked in the NICU while attending the University of Pittsburgh for law school.


3. Karen Garver & Rick Santorum Met While She Was a Law Intern

Karen Garver and Rick Santorum met while she was a law intern, working at the Kirkpatrick and Lockhart law practice, according to The Sun.


4. Karen Santorum Faced a Scandal in 2012 for a Previous Relationship With an Abortion Doctor

As a young woman in her 20s, Karen Garver had a relationship with an abortion doctor, Tom Allen, who was 40 years her senior. Due to Rick Santorum’s staunch beliefs against abortion, national tabloids called out the couple for her past relationship and said it was a mark of hypocrisy.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette took a different stance, writing in an opinion piece, “There are plenty of reasons to lodge charges of hypocrisy against Republican candidates for president. But in the case of Rick Santorum, his wife’s past is not one of them.”

Local reporters were well aware of the previous relationship, the article goes on to say.

“This has been well-known for decades to many people in Pittsburgh, including reporters. But it never circulated in print here, probably because it was regarded more as gossip than relevant information,” the article said.

It says that claims Karen Santorum’s previous relationship undercuts her husband’s stance on abortion is “a desperate and ridiculous charge, indicative of the tenuous hold on reality shared by some on the right-wing fringe whose votes Mr. Santorum is courting.”

The article says, “I don’t believe there’s anything hypocritical about Mrs. Santorum revising her abortion views. If anything, her story demonstrates the extent to which people can and do change over time. That doesn’t make them insincere. It makes them human.”


5. Native American Organizations Called for Rick Santorum to Be Taken Off the Air Following His Comments on Native American Culture

Rick Santorum spoke to the Young American’s Foundation, a group for conservative, Catholic students, on April 23, 2021, and said the culture of the United States was born out of Judeo-Christian values.

“We came here and created a blank slate. We birthed a nation from nothing. I mean, there was nothing here,” he said. “I mean, yes, we have Native Americans, but candidly, there’s isn’t much Native American culture in American culture.”

He said the country was “born of the people who came here pursuing religious liberty,” and said that America was founded on faith and on religious freedom.

“It is what makes America unique in the world,” he said.

Fawn Sharp, president of the National Congress of American Indians, had strong words for Santorum and CNN.

“Rick Santorum is an unhinged and embarrassing racist who disgraces CNN and any other media company that provides him a platform,” she said in a statement. “Televising someone with his views on Native American genocide is fundamentally no different than putting an outright Nazi on television to justify the Holocaust.”

She said CNN could face a boycott from 500 tribal nations if Santorum is not fired.

“Make your choice,” Sharp said. “Do you stand with white supremacists justifying Native American genocide, or do you stand with Native Americans?”

The Native American Journalists Association advised Native American reporters to refrain from working with CNN. The group had also claimed the network labeled Native American voters “something else” in election night coverage and did not apologize.

“The Native American Journalists Association strongly cautions Native American and Alaska Native reporters from working with, or applying to jobs, at CNN in the wake of continued racist comments and insensitive reporting directed at Indigenous people,” the group said in a statement.

They further called on “advertisers, funders and journalism diversity organizations to withdraw their support from CNN indefinitely.”

CNN did not immediately comment on Santorum publicly.