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?”
In my new book Rules for Patriots: How Conservatives Can Win Again, one of my “10 Commandments of Political Warfare” is “never accept the premise of your opponent’s argument.” But that’s just the mistake some in the pro-life movement are making by making the case there are exceptions to the God-given right to life. In the Judeo-Christian worldview, people are not “exceptions” to be targeted for extermination. There are only exceptional people.
When we as a movement say we’re willing to kill someone like Ms. Kiessling to win favor with our opponents or make it easier to win elections, we’re not advancing the sanctity of life. Those for killing children on-demand, and those who claim to be “pro-life with exceptions,” are actually making the same argument. Both are arguing for killing innocent children on the basis their life will inconvenience someone else’s. That’s why I don’t believe there’s any such thing as “pro-life with exceptions.” You’re really just “pro-choice with fewer choices.”
This anti-American belief system is what’s called utilitarianism, a Leftist philosophy best summed up by the Marxist creed “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need.”
These sorts of utilitarian arguments have been used to justify genocides, purges, and five-year plans. Of course, it’s always the already-living and/or elites who decide who would be better off dead. As Ronald Reagan once famously pointed out: “It should be noted that everyone for abortion has already been born.” Once embraced by a culture, utilitarianism always costs innocent people their lives.
In a republic governed by the “Laws of Nature and Nature’s God” such as ours was intended to be, all life — regardless of how or by whom it came into this world — is sacred because we are all made equal in the image of the Creator. Salvation, redemption, restoration, and opportunity are available to all of us via our Creator, regardless of our station in life or the womb. Is not the first inalienable right endowed on us by our Creator the right to life? Are there exceptions to inalienable rights?
My mom was just 14 years old when she found out she was pregnant with me in the fall of 1972. My mom was the poster child for Planned Parenthood — poor, young, and uneducated. Given the situation I was born into, few would’ve predicted my mom would pull herself up by her bootstraps, go to college, become a nurse, and set a good example for me. Let alone that I would’ve followed her example and become a nationally syndicated radio host, author, and contributor here at The Washington Times. The Savior of the world Himself, Jesus Christ, also was conceived in the womb of an unwed teenage mother.
That’s why human beings shouldn’t play God: We tend to commit the worst atrocities when we try.
The pro-life movement would be wise to remember the words of the great abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison: “Enslave the liberty of but one human being and the liberties of the world are in peril.”
If we truly want our fellow Americans to believe that all life is sacred and a gift from God, then we should be in the business of defending all life as if it is. Just ask Rebecca Kiessling and all the lives touched by her and her family.
(SteveDeace is the author of the new book “Rules for Patriots: How Conservatives Can Win Again.” You can follow him on Twitter @SteveDeaceShow.)