- - Monday, March 24, 2014

Imagine having your own murder debated on national television, and then you’d know how people like Rebecca Kiessling often feel.

Ms. Kiessling, a 44-year-old Michigan attorney, was conceived in rape. Her birth mother was sexually assaulted at knife-point by a serial rapist. It wasn’t until she learned the truth of her origin that she even considered the scorching hot debate that has been raging since Roe v. Wade 41 years ago.

“I had never considered this applied to my life, but once I learned the truth of my conception, it suddenly did,” Ms. Kiessling said.

According to Ms. Kiessling’s research, her life represents the more than 30,000 rape-related pregnancies that occur in the United States each year. Now married for 15 years with five children ages 6-14, Ms. Kiessling is reconciled with her birth mother and is on the speaker’s circuit about 75 times per year on behalf of children conceived in rape.

However, since former U.S. Senate candidates Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock made their controversial statements about rape and abortion during the 2012 campaign, Ms. Kiessling also has spent plenty of time watching the existence of children like her debated in the media as if they’re nothing more than a statistic.

“It’s kind of surreal,” Ms. Kiessling said. “It seems for many we’re just a philosophical exercise. It’s like there’s no consideration there are real people involved.”

Ms. Kiessling says her willingness to share her story has given her a chance to change minds and influence others to reconsider their positions, including Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. She’s even debated feminist attorney Gloria Allred on CNN. But sharing her story hasn’t always been easy.

“When I was younger and dating, I used my story as kind of a litmus test for guys,” Ms. Kiessling said. “I’d have guys that were interested in me, but would literally say because I was conceived in rape I didn’t have a right to live. My children struggle with the idea that there are politicians and judges who don’t think their mommy should be allowed to live.”

Because of the political firestorm surrounding rape and abortion, Ms. Kiessling says the familiar battle lines don’t always apply. She sometimes feels under fire from her fellow pro-lifers.

“I love Sean Hannity, but last year I heard him refer to children conceived in rape as ‘evil seed’ and I wondered if he would say something like that to my face,” Ms. Kiessling said. “I read where Ann Coulter said we have to be willing to kill babies like me. What that basically says is we have to create a new class of people here, who are basically sub-human.”

Ms. Kiessling believes the most effective way to change hearts and minds is with testimonies like her own. Furthermore, two of her five children were adopted from a teenage mother, and they often wear pro-life T-shirts to school in order to strike up a meaningful conversation with their classmates about the issue.

“There are so many others like me who won’t come forward and share their stories because they don’t want to be stigmatized,” Ms. Kiessling said. “I wish I could tell them all they matter, and they’re not the rapist’s baby. They’re a child of God.”

That conviction is what drives Ms. Kiessling to take her “Save the 1” campaign all over the world, where she urges her fellow pro-lifers not to compromise with the child-killing industry for political expediency.

“The Supreme Court said it was cruel and unusual punishment to execute rapists,” Kiessling said. “So why would we execute an innocent child who has done nothing? Why would we execute a child for the crimes of his father?”

Why indeed?

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