Michele Bachmann, the Minnesota congresswoman seeking the Republican presidential nomination, said Wednesday that a "devastating" miscarriage led her to become a foster parent to 23 children.
Speaking to voters in South Carolina, the mother of five biological children said the experience changed her and refocused her family's priorities. As she appeals to voters, she is talking about opening her home to a rotating crew of teenage girls from troubled families, some staying a few weeks and others for years.
"After our second was born, we became pregnant with a third baby," she said. "It was an unexpected baby, but of course we were delighted to have this child. The child was coming along, and we ended up losing our child. And it was devastating to both of us, as you can imagine if any of you have lost a child."
She said the experience led her and husband Marcus to re-evaluate their priorities.
"At that moment, we didn't think of ourselves as overly career-minded or overly materialistic, but when we lost that child it changed us, and it changed us forever," she said. "We made a commitment that, no matter how many children were brought into our life, we would receive them because we are committed to life."
Bachmann previously had discussed her miscarriage. In an impassioned speech against abortion on the floor of the U.S. House in 2008, she said, "We didn't know if we could go on anymore" after the loss.
In an interview with The Associated Press this spring, Bachmann said she had seen many members of her church with foster children and decided to join them.
"Both my husband and I looked at each other because we had broken hearts for at-risk kids and we thought that maybe we could do something like that now that I was home fulltime," she said. "It was our belief that a foster child needed a parent who could be home fulltime."
Bachmann's comments in South Carolina were first reported by CNN.