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16 / 01 / 2013 - New pro-life group to coach politicians on answering the `rape exception` question
Rebecca Kiessling was conceived in rape. To her, the media frenzy surrounding recent gaffes by pro-life Republican politicians is deeply personal. That’s one reason why she launched Save the 1, a new pro-life group aimed at educating politicians and activists on the issues surrounding rape and abortion and helping them answer tough questions.
LifeSiteNews spoke to Ms. Kiessling by phone Tuesday as she waited for her flight at a Washington-area airport. She had just come from a meeting hosted by the Susan B. Anthony List, at which congressmen and senators came together to hear from pro-life women on the abortion issue. Kiessling told them her personal story – how she was conceived in rape and how her mother sought abortion twice, but was ultimately prevented from doing so by Michigan state law.
“My mother would have aborted me if it had been legal, but I was protected by state law,” Kiessling said. “I meet people and I say, ‘Your mother chose life; how nice for you, but mine didn’t. She chose abortion.’” Added Kiessling, “Those Michigan state legislators who were 100 percent pro-life, without compromise, and protected me with laws … they chose life for me. And they are my heroes. Some of us need heroes.”
Kiessling told legislators about Save the 1 and why she opposes the rape exception.
“The goal of Save the 1 is to remove exceptions from the law, starting with the Hyde Amendment,” said Kiessling. The Hyde Amendment, passed at the federal level, requires states to fund abortions under certain conditions, one being if a child is a product of rape. Kiessling recounted numerous occasions when state legislative committees approved total abortion bans for a floor vote, only to be told by state budget offices that the laws are unenforceable due to Hyde.
“We will never have an end to abortion in this country until we take away these exceptions, until we ‘Save the 1,’” Kiessling said.
‘Save the 1,’ Kiessling said, is a reference to Matthew 18:12-14, the parable of the lost sheep, in which a shepherd who owns 100 sheep leaves 99 behind to go look for one who is lost.
It is also a reference to the estimate that nearly 1% of Americans are conceived in rape.
“There are about 32,000 babies conceived every year as a result of rape,” Kiessling told LSN, “and most of their mothers choose life, and most choose to raise them. Only about 15 to 25 percent abort. I did the math on that, and about 27,000 babies every year are born as the result of rape.” Added Kiessling, “That’s nearly 1 percent of the population. That’s almost one out of every hundred.”
“People don’t realize how many of us there are,” Kiessling said. “People don’t realize how many people they are hurting with this rape exception rhetoric. One percent of the population are being made to feel like they are disposable and that they should never have been born, like their lives weren’t worth defending, even by pro-lifers.”
Kiessling believes aggressive education is the key to helping pro-life politicians answer the difficult question of why abortion is wrong even in cases of rape.
“We want to equip legislators and pro-life activists to answer the rape questions and to provide high-quality speakers and ads that can be run for free to further this cause,” she said. She said she envisions having a group of available speakers in every state who can testify at a moment’s notice before legislatures.
Kiessling said 2012’s spate of gaffes highlighted the importance of the effort. “[Save the 1] was in the works before,” she said, “but it seemed like the timing was perfect, in the wake of the presidential defeat and with all the senatorial defeats of people like Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock after their flubs on the rape exception.”
She noted that 2012 wasn’t the first year the rape issue had tripped up otherwise well-meaning pro-life candidates. “Sharon Angle said something about making lemonade out of lemons and was mocked,” Kiessling said. “Herman Cain was twice asked about cases of rape and was supposed to be 100% pro-life, but ended up repeating some very pro-choice rhetoric.”
Kiessling hopes that putting real people who have been conceived in rape in front of politicians will enable them to be seen as more than an unfortunate statistic. “I’ve found it’s easy to change people’s hearts when they can put a face to the issue,” said Kiessling.
Kiessling’s group has launched a website, with information and tips for politicians and activists. In the weeks to come, she said, the site will be adding a growing number of videos, ads and resources. Save the 1 will also have a presence at the upcoming March for Life in Washington, D.C. Kiessling and other members will give speeches at the Youth Rally, and information will be available at the group’s booth.
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