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Wives of 'Rape Remark' Politicians - Who are the Women Married to These Men?

Surprising, Unexpected Former Lives of these Now Conservative Political Wives

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Updated October 26, 2012
With every election cycle comes controversy over abortion and contraception, and 2012 was no exception. But 2012's "Republican War on Women" included a rising tide of male politicians calling for a ban on abortion even in the cases of rape or incest. In arguing their position, many made remarks about rape and pregnancy that were ignorant and lacking in the most basic concepts of biology taught at the high school level. These comments were misogynistic, disturbing, and uttered by GOP candidates running for election at every level, including the nation's highest office. Among the most egregious comments: It's no surprise that these statements were met with disgust by both women and men and disavowals by other Republican political leaders. But what was surprising was that all these candidates were married. What did their spouses think? Of course the good political wife always supports her husband. But these comments about rape and pregnancy due to rape were so cringe-worthy that many of us wondered, "Who are the wives of these men? And what kind of woman would marry a man who believed this?"

If you imagined them growing up cloistered in a convent, living the life of a sheltered innocent before meeting their future husbands, think again. The very liberal, smart, and headstrong women they once were may not be apparent from their present situations, but each chose to put aside her career aspirations, change her life and revise her expectations to be with the man she married.

And their choices and past may shine a light on why their spouses are so adamant about opposing abortion even in the cases of rape or incest. Once you read their backgrounds, you may wonder if their husbands' political positions are rooted in personal issues, uneasiness with "career women" and resentments so subconscious that even they may not realize their existence.

Lulli Boe Akin
After Todd Akin's comment about legitimate rape and a woman's ability to "shut down" any pregnancy that is the outcome of rape, The Daily Beast's assignment editor Alison Yarrow wondered, "Who is 'Mrs. Legitimate Rape'?" She found out that at one time Lulli Boe Akin was "the last woman you'd expect to be married to a conservative opponent of abortion backed by the Tea Party."

A women's college graduate who studied sociolinguistics, Lulli had contemplated joining the Peace Corps, the CIA, or the staff of left-wing activist Ralph Nader. She opted for a job as a systems engineer with IBM in Providence, RI, where she met Todd, an IBM salesman.

She moved to St. Louis, engaged in Bible Study Fellowship and became an evangelical Christian, and gave up her professional career to become a full-time wife and mother. She homeschooled the couple's six children over the course of 26 years and became a leader in the Christian home education movement.

Janna Little Ryan
Married to the vice presidential candidate who stated that rape is merely "another form of conception," Janna Ryan seems too intelligent to accept that type of thinking -- or the man who espouses it. Born in a small town in Oklahoma, Janna was the eldest of three daughters. Her parents, Dan and Prudence Little, were both successful litigation lawyers in private practice; her extended family has a long history in politics.

Janna attended Wellesley, received her law degree from George Washington University, and worked as a congressional aide and a corporate lobbyist representing the health insurance, drug, oil and cigar industries. Her clients included Blue Cross Blue Shield, Cigna, Marathon Oil, Conoco, Wyeth Pharmaceuticals and Novartis. For the Cigar Association of America, she lobbied Congress and the White House to exclude cigars from many of the same regulations placed on cigarettes such as warning labels.

Janna met Paul while she was a lobbyist and he was a Congressman. They married with the understanding that Paul would focus on his career in public service and she would be a stay-at-home mom and focus on their family. The couple has three young children.

Karen Garver Santorum
The wife of a failed presidential candidate widely recognized as the most adamantly pro-life of the 2012 Republican contenders, Karen's background is strikingly at odds with her current life and focus. One of 12 children raised in a Catholic family, Karen's father was a pediatrician with a thriving practice thanks to the many referrals of obstetrician Dr. Thomas Allen who also delivered Karen. Later as a 22-year-old nursing student at Duquesne University, she crossed paths with Dr. Allen once again. She rented a basement apartment from the 63-year-old now divorced doctor in a building that contained both his practice and his private residence.

The acquaintance quickly developed into a relationship. Despite the four-decade difference in their ages -- and the fact that he performed therapeutic abortions years before Roe v. Wade -- she moved in with him. The couple lived together for nearly 6 years.

The union was opposed by both Karen's family and Dr. Allen's children; his youngest child, Candy, was the same age as his lover. Allen paid to have Karen's teeth straightened, bought her a Steinway when she wanted to learn to play piano, took her to Europe several times, and had a friend write a recommendation when she applied to law school.

Although she worked as a neonatal nurse at the time of their relationship, Karen did not oppose abortion and even offered to accompany one of Allen's friends to the procedure, telling the friend that "it wasn't that bad" and that she shouldn't be worried. They broke up in 1988 after it became clear that Karen wanted children and Allen didn't.

Soon after, Karen met Rick Santorum after he recruited her to be a summer intern for his law firm. Like Karen, he was Catholic and neither devout nor practicing; but after the couple married in 1990 they both embraced their faith.

Karen never practiced law. Instead, she became pregnant and Rick ran for Congress. Five years later he was one of the most prominent anti-abortion legislators in the House.

See also: Why Some Republican Candidates Make Stupid Remarks About Rape

Sources:
"Greater St. Louis Area Home Educators Expo: Lulli Akin." Service-life.com. Retrieved 25 October 2012.
Britney, Free. "Janna Ryan: Five Facts About Paul Ryan's Wife." TheHollywoodGossip.com. 13 August 2012.
Hass, Nancy. "Before Karen Met Rick." TheDailyBeast.com. 16 January 2012.
Wilkie, Christina. "Janna Ryan, Paul Ryan's Wife, Lobbied For Cigar, Nuclear, Pharmaceutical Industries." TheHuffingtonPost.com. 14 August 2012.
Yarrow, Allison. "Who is Mrs. 'Legitimate Rape'? Meet Todd Akin's Wife, Lulli." TheDailyBeast.com. 20 August 2012.

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