MORGAN: Yes, but what a hell of a sentence it was. Now you’ve heard what the politicians have to say. Here now for more on our big story. Two women with very strong personal feelings on the questions surrounding rape and abortion.
Rebecca Kiessling was conceived from a rape and she’s an attorney and national spokeswoman for Personhood USA. And Attorney Gloria Allred is a rape survivor who became pregnant and had an illegal abortion.
Welcome to you both.
This is clearly a hugely emotive issue. It’s also an issue that I believe fundamentally should be debated the loudest by women. And that’s why I’m glad that you’re both on the show tonight. I know that you both have different views and you both come at this from very different personal stories.
Gloria, let me start with you. Because you were raped and you had an abortion. When you heard Todd Akin’s comments, what was your reaction?
GLORIA ALLRED, ALLRED, MAROKO AND GOLDBERG: Well, both that what he said was actually inaccurate and also very dangerous. Because he is suggesting or was suggesting that in fact a woman who is raped can’t get pregnant, which we know is false. And in addition that his record is that rape should not be legally available and safe.
I had an abortion after having been raped and become pregnant. And I had it when it was illegal for a doctor to perform it, although not illegal for a woman to have it. As a result of it’s being illegal and unsafe, I almost died because I had an infection. I hemorrhaged. I ended up having to go to the hospital.
And my life was saved. But the point is this. We cannot go back to those days when abortion was a crime in the United States. And when many women died or were maimed by illegal abortions. And that is why what he did was very, very dangerous. MORGAN: How would you have felt if you had been compelled to have that baby by the rapist who raped you?
ALLRED: Well, that is the key point. No one should have that choice except for me it. It should be a woman who is trusted. A rape survivor who is trusted with the choice of whether to carry the pregnancy to term or whether or not to have an abortion. No politician sitting in Washington, whether it’s Representative Akin or anyone else, should make that choice for me. And no person, as strongly as they may believe in their religious beliefs, should make that choice for me. I have the right to make that choice.
MORGAN: Rebecca Kiessling, let me turn to you because your mother was raped and she gave birth to you. Tell me a little bit about that and why that has formed your view, which is that all abortion is wrong.
REBECCA KIESSLING, CONCEIVED IN RAPE: My birth mother was abducted at knife point by a serial rapist. She went to two back alley abortionists. And I was almost aborted. But I was legally protected here in Michigan at the time. Abortion was illegal even in cases of rape. And so my birth mother was forced to carry me by law. And I owe my life to pro-life advocates legislators who saw that mine was a life worth saving. And now today my birth mother and I are both thankful.
MORGAN: I totally respect and understand your position. But explain to me why if you’re a woman in America, and 30,000-plus women in America are raped and impregnated by the rapist. Explain to me why they should not have the right as a woman to decide what happens to that baby. Because I can’t think of anything worse for a woman who is raped than being compelled by the law of the country to carry and to bear and to bring up the child of the rapist that you despise.
KIESSLING: Well, I understand that you care about women and you have compassion for rape victims. And I understand that you feel that in order to show compassion that you have to support abortion in such a case. But I believe that that’s based upon three fallacies. And one is that most rape victims would want an abortion. And that’s not true. They actually choose abortion at half the rate of your average unplanned pregnancy, which is over 50 percent abort in the United States.
Rape victims, it’s between 15 to 25 percent who abort. Most people think that 90, 95 percent of rape victims would want an abortion and that’s not true. And I think it’s very telling because the truth is that —
MORGAN: Let me —
KIESSLING: One should have —
MORGAN: Gloria wants to jump in here. Let me bring Gloria.
ALLRED: I just want to say, you know, these statistics are kind of mind-numbing. And I think the point, though, is the point that you raised earlier, Piers, which is what she’s really advocating is mandatory motherhood. Compulsory pregnancy. That women should be forced to, if they become pregnant, take that pregnancy to term and give birth.
I don’t believe that the government should force women into that situation. I have no doubt that she’s well intentioned. I’m sure that others who believe in forcing women to continue pregnancies are well intentioned. But that doesn’t mean they have the right to force me to do what they wish me to do. And I — and this is much bigger than Representative Akin. It’s bigger than Rebecca out there.
It’s part of the GOP platform that there should not even be an exception for rape and incest for abortion. And so this is very, very serious. I don’t want anyone to go back to the days when abortion was illegal. And when women like me almost died because we couldn’t get safe and legal abortions.
MORGAN: Yes, I mean, Rebecca, this is the key thing for me with this is that — it’s not a disrespect to you and your position. I totally understand, as I say, why you would feel as strongly as you do. But my problem is for the American women who get raped and — in fact, never mind in America, anyone in the world, but particularly we’re talking about what happens in America here.
They get raped and impregnated and they are desperate, desperate not to have a rapist’s baby. On any human level, shouldn’t they just have a basic right in that situation to make that decision for themselves? Isn’t that what a modern America should stand for?
KIESSLING: You know, modern America has said, according to the Supreme Court, that it is cruel and unusual punishment to give the death penalty for rapists. Even for child molesters. The Supreme Court has said that they did not deserve the death penalty. And I don’t believe that I or any other child similarly situated deserve the death penalty for the crimes of our fathers.
I believe that this is —
ALLRED: You know, it’s only the death penalty if — yes, it’s only the death penalty if you think that an embryo should have more rights than an adult woman and that you consider an embryo a human life, or I mean a fertilized egg.
KIESSLING: Well, I —
ALLRED: And I know there are people like Congressman Ryan who literally have supported making an embryo a person as a matter of law. Considering that as a matter of law. I personally don’t think a fertilized egg should have more rights than an adult woman. And that’s what I believe.
And I — by the way, a lot of — women who are rape victims, it’s not that they detest the fetus. That’s not necessarily the reason that they want to terminate the pregnancy. There may be lots of reasons. There may be emotional reasons. There may be economic reasons. It may not be something that is going to work in their lives at that time to be — they may care very much about being able to support a child, to love a child, to nurture a child, to make sure the child has everything the child needs. And they may feel that at that point in their life they can’t do that.
MORGAN: And Rebecca, I mean, I will give you the last word here. All I’m saying —
KIESSLING: Gloria, I —
MORGAN: Wait a minute, Rebecca, let me just say, I would have total respect for any woman who is raped who believes that they can go through with the pregnancy and can give birth to that child. It would show extraordinary strength of character. As indeed your mother showed. But I would also have huge respect for any woman, and I totally would understand this, who just felt they couldn’t do it. That just they could not go through with bearing a rapist’s baby.
And that’s why in the end doesn’t it have to come down to individual choice? Why should that woman who feels that strongly the other way to you not have the same right that you did?
KIESSLING: You know, I may not look the same as I did when I was 4 years old or 4 weeks old unborn in my mother’s womb. But that was still undeniably me. And I would have been killed. My life would have been ended.
I am very sorry, Gloria, for the loss of your son or your daughter. You may not think that their life matters. But you know what? That matters to me.
And I am very sorry for the loss to our world for generations now who have been aborted. And I was targeted for abortion. That was my near-death experience. And the fact that I was younger doesn’t make it any less real or any less significant than someone who wakes up out of a coma to find out that they were almost killed in an automobile accident.
You know you talk about —
ALLRED: By the way, there are many people in comas who get raped.
KIESSLING: I’m a woman — Gloria, I’m a woman —
ALLRED: There are people in — Rebecca, let me just tell you.
KIESSLING: Gloria, I’m a woman. I’m a woman, too.
ALLRED: Rebecca, I hear that. I see that.
KIESSLING: I’m talking, you can wait until we’re done.
ALLRED: Yes, OK. Rebecca — wait a minute.
KIESSLING: You know what, I know that you like to bully people, give me a chance to finish.
ALLRED: Let me just say that there two —
KIESSLING: You have interrupted me three times now.
MORGAN: OK. Gloria — OK.
KIESSLING: Three times now you’ve interrupted me.
MORGAN: Rebecca, if I can just calm things down. She’s actually trying to respond to an earlier point you made. But have your say now, Rebecca, what you want to say.
KIESSLING: OK. I’m a woman. You talk about how much you care about women. Well, what good is my right to anything as a woman if I don’t have my right to life?
ALLRED: Well, let me just tell you, there — you brought up people in a coma. I’ve dealt with cases of women who have been in a coma who have been raped. You talk about young people. There are many teenagers who are raped. Sometimes it’s a date rape. Sometimes an acquaintance rape. Sometimes it’s a forcible rape. Sometimes it’s not a forcible rape but it is a rape.
And you know what, they need to have the right to choose, too. A rapist takes away the control from a woman by raping a woman. She at least should have the control of her life decisions after that.
MORGAN: OK. Listen, I respect both of your views hugely. I appreciate you coming on, being so candid . You’ve both been through extraordinary experiences. And this debate, I’m sure, will continue to rage. But for now, thank you both very much.