BY MARY THEW
Rebecca Kiessling, a different kind of pro-life speaker and advocate, came to speak in the Gentile Gallery of the J.C. Williams Center the evening of April 18.
Kiessling was raised in a secular Jewish household by her adoptive parents. At the age of 18, she decided to undergo a search for her biological mother. Her records were sealed in the state of Michigan, so she petitioned the courts for her records.
When she received her birth records, they contained everything she could want to know about her mother, except for her name. However, the only description of her father was that he was Caucasian and of large build.
Thinking that it sounded like a police description, Kiessling called her caseworker and found out that she was the product of a rape. Kiessling said that the knowledge of how she was conceived made her feel so ugly and unwanted, as though no one could ever love her.
“And it was as if I could hear the echoes of all of those people who would say, ‘I’m pro-life, except in cases of rape,’ or ‘I’m pro-choice, especially in cases of rape’,” she said. “And now all those people we talking about me.”
After many years, Rebecca was able to heal and understand her value in God’s eyes, and she now fights the “rape and incest” exception in both pro-life and pro-choice opinions. One of the most startling things she told her audience was that according to a Gallup poll survey taken last June, 60 percent of self-professing pro-lifers make the rape exception.
“I felt like I had at least half of the world against me,” said Kiessling. “I’ve got more than half of pro-lifers against me. Ouch!”
Putting faces, voices and stories to this issue is important because that is what changes hearts, she explained. Texas Gov. Rick Perry changed his mind about the rape exception because Kiessling shared her story with him when they met in person.
After she told him her story, he told her that she was his heroine. Kiessling said that she replied, “Thanks, funny you said that because my question for you is: Will you be my hero? And I explained to him what I told you, that I am alive because of pro-life leaders in Michigan, who are my heroes.”
Kiessling is indeed alive today because of pro-life leaders in Michigan, for at the time of her conception, abortion was still illegal in the state.
“You know, when you make the rape exception, that’s like saying to me that I deserve the death penalty for the crimes of my father,” said Kiessling. “The Supreme Court has said he didn’t even deserve the death penalty; there’s no death penalty for rapists, but you believe that I, the innocent child of rape, deserve the death penalty.”
When people claim this is a women’s rights issue, they forget about the women in the womb, she said. “Well I’m a woman,” she said. “And they could care less about me.”
She added that it is important to remember that children who are conceived in rape are people too, and that they do more to help their mother heal than they do to hurt her. Kiessling stated in a survey of women who had been raped and conceived said that if they had kept the child, it was a healing experience for them. But if they had aborted their baby, they felt like they had been raped all over again.