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Tuesday, June 18, 2013



H.R. 1797—The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act pending in Congress, as amended on June 14, 2013, now has a rape and incest exception—as if children conceived in rape are such freaking mutants that we are incapable of feeling pain.  Well, I’m feeling the pain right now—especially when you’ve thrown us under the bus!  This is a callous attack on children conceived in rape—a wanton and reckless disregard for our lives. 

The first section of the bill goes into great detail how unborn children experience pain, and why, beginning at 20 weeks gestation, unborn children should be protected—and then it excludes the weakest, most vulnerable, easy targets, the most marginalized and discriminated segment of our population—“the least of these.”  And much of the pro-life leadership are still pushing the bill, which is the real problem, because the exceptions wouldn’t be in the bill if the Representatives didn’t know that they could count on the support of major pro-life organizations.

Once again, the debates on Facebook and Twitter echo the same sentiment of the majority voices in the pro-life movement for the last 40 years—you “save the 99 in exchange for the 1.”  Of course, whenever I hear that phrase I can’t help but think of the Parable of the Lost Sheep in which Jesus was talking about the little children and “the least of these.”  He was all about saving the 1!  But the slogan goes—“save as many as you can while working to save all.”  Really?  Tell me what you’re doing to work to save all, because I don’t see it.  There is no strategy within the greater pro-life movement to go back to save the 1.  And the fact is, if we are going to be saved, we need to be part of a package deal because it doesn’t seem like very many would follow Jesus’ example of going off just to save the 1.  After all, the Hyde Amendment exceptions have been in place for 20 years now, and I’ve never heard discussions of any strategy to go back to remove those exceptions.  I would love to see an example where there was a law with a rape exception and someone went back to save the 1 and the rape exception was removed from the law.

The other argument is that the votes simply aren’t there.  Well, tell me what efforts you’ve been making in order to see that the votes are there in the future to be able to save all.  Have you identified who the rape exception legislators are?  Are you bringing in speakers like me who were conceived in rape who could possibly change their hearts and minds, like my experience with Gov. Rick Perry and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich?  Are you planning a campaign to target them in their primaries so that we can elect no-exceptions legislators?  Do you have a policy for your PAC endorsements that candidates who make the rape exception can’t get your endorsement—at least in the primaries?  What is your strategy to save all?  If you don’t have one, then your words are surely meaningless.  As the saying goes, your actions speak so loudly, I can’t hear what you’re saying.  It’s mere lip-service.  But the donors have no idea. . . .  If the party platform of the Republican party is no-exceptions, then surely the grass-roots supporters of the pro-life movement are no exceptions as well, but the donors likely assume those values are upheld by the organizations they financially support.

In Footnote 54 of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v Wade, as part of the personhood discussion, the Court pointed out the fact that Texas had exceptions, and that this undermined the State’s whole argument for personhood.  The Court recognized that when you make exceptions, you demonstrate that you don’t really believe that’s a person—that ANY are persons, and when ALL aren’t protected, NONE are protected.  If we are ever going to see Roe v Wade overturned, we need to stop compromising.  The Hyde Amendment has had a chilling effect on states that want to pass Personhood statutes or abortion bans, because their budget office gets the bills killed on the floor because under Hyde, they MUST fund abortions in cases of rape, incest and the life of the mother.

I’ve learned that advocates for compromise don’t like having the label of “compromiser” associated with them in any way.  It’s been suggested that I’m name-calling or questioning their pro-life values and intentions.  It’s not my intent to do so.  I know that they are good-willed pro-life people who need to see the fallacies in their strategy and the undermining of their principles.  It’s not right that legislators can count on the greater pro-life movement’s support every time a rape exception is added.  When you set the bar low, they will meet it.  For once, I’d like to see the majority voice tell them “No, that’s not acceptable!”  How can you demonstrate that you’ve fought for children conceived in rape?  And I mean really fought battles for—where you staked your claim and stood up to legislators and candidates?

Right to Life of Michigan has actually fought for children conceived in rape—consistently.  Because of their uncompromising principles, there has never been a rape exception in the history of Michigan law.  When they didn’t have the votes to pass the state version of the Hyde Amendment without a rape exception, they worked on the legislators to get them to change.  And when they still didn’t have the votes, they targeted them in the primaries, got several voted out, and the very next legislative session, they got it passed with no exceptions—that’s how you get it done!  Sadly, for many years, RLM was the only affiliate of NRLC who had this no compromise policy.  But they’ve now mentored many others like Georgia RTL, Tennessee RTL, South Dakota RTL and Alaska RTL who’ve now gone to the no exceptions/no compromise model.  American Life League has this same policy, as well as Personhood USA.  Does the pro-life organization you support have this policy?  Ask them!  Challenge them. 

Please don’t accuse anyone of not really being pro-life—that’s not at all helpful.  We actually want them to change their policy.  It’s possible—look at Gov. Rick Perry and look at Georgia Right to Life.  Nearly 13 years ago, GRTL was ranked 50th by AUL as being the worst state for pro-life legislation.  After having changed their policy, they are now ranked 2nd and have a Gold Star rating with AUL.  They got the mediocre exceptions legislators out and got passionately pro-life legislators in.  And they helped to change many from being mediocre to being passionate about their pro-life values.  It’s all about leadership.

I’ve said this before—we are not cannon fodder!  How dare anyone assume that they can put us out on the front lines and then take a giant step back.  You don’t discriminate.  Can you imagine if there were a rape exception in case of bi-racial rape?  The arguments would be the same—“you save the 999 in exchange for the 1,” and “it’s just that the baby would look more like the rapist and be more of a constant reminder of the rape”—arguments which I’ve heard before!  Can you imagine the national outcry from civil rights leaders?  “How dare you discriminate!”  And yet, so many think nothing of discriminating against children conceived in rape.

Some have said to me, “It’s nothing against you personally.”  But it affects me personally.  After all, I am a person, right?  I’m alive today because of no exceptions/no compromise pro-life leaders who recognized that mine was a life worth saving, and they ensured that I was legally protected.  I feel like my life was rescued from a burning building.  How could I not return to that building to save the others?  How could I not advocate that they should be rescued as well?

Just remember—the U.S. Supreme Court said rapists don’t deserve the death penalty—that it’s cruel and unusual punishment for even child molesters.  So why should an innocent child deserve the death penalty for the crimes of her father?  Is that so hard to say?

Defend us.

Rebecca Kiessling

Posted by Rebecca Kiessling on 06/18 at 11:04 PM
NewsPro-Life UnityExceptions and CompromisePermalink
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