Thursday, August 28, 2014

What Exceptions Do You Make? by Kyler Kiessling, born to a teen drug addict

What exceptions do you make?  What about a teenaged girl who has been testing positive for heroine and has been in and out of jail?  Should she have had the choice to abort me?  What about a baby who the doctors say will have a lot of serious health problems when she's born?  Should my sister have been aborted instead of living for 33 days?    What about a woman who's been raped?  Should she have had the choice to abort my mom?
This is the reality of me and my family.  When you make exceptions, you hurt other people because some people have lived through those experiences and don't want to see other people like us aborted. 
My birthmom was only 18 when she had me.   While she was  pregnant with me, she tested positive for heroine.  My biological father was doing heroine with her while they were dating.  Because they shoplifted, the judge made her test for drugs.  When she tested positive four times, she had to spend time in jail.  People would say that she'd been through a lot, so she should have  had the choice to abort me.  Or, people would say she should abort the child -- abort me -- because you don't want to bring a baby in this world like that, while she's in jail and doing drugs.
Well, I got adopted by a very nice family who already had my older half-brother.  We have the same birthmother, but different biological fathers.  My adoptive parents fought against child protective services to be able to keep us together.  They wanted to go trial and keep me in foster care.
My life is great!  I play sports -- travel soccer.  I have had a lot of opportunities for different kinds of sports, activities, travelling, friends, good education, etc..  I'm a friendly kid at my middle school.  I go to church where I volunteer.  I'm involved in my youth group.  I'm a playful brother with my 4 siblings.  I have a good relationship with my parents.    I feel loved - by my parents, my siblings, my friends and my birthmom.
Today, my birthmom is a stunning, successful hair dresser and waitress.  She's been drug-free for many years and not involved in crime.  My brother and I get to see her often.  We spend time at her house and my grandma's.  My uncles are really cool with us.  When my uncle got married last summer, my whole family went to the wedding and my brother and I got to spend the night at her house.   My birthmom is very enjoyable person to be around.  She's funny and cool.  She plays video games with us too.  I love her so much!
I'm glad she chose adoption and that she didn't want to abort me or my brother.  She was 16 when he was born.  In the United States, only 1% of pregnant women choose adoption when the pregnancy wasn't planned.  I feel very loved that she chose adoption over abortion.  But 50% are aborted.  I'm sharing my story because I want more people to be inspired to choose adoption, but I also want to address the exceptions people:  Every life is valuable!  No one should be an exception.  No one should be treated as less than the fortunate.
BIO:  Kyler Kiessling wrote this in 2014 at 12 years old, when he was entering the 7th grade.  He resides in Michigan and is the son of Save The 1 pro-life speaker Rebecca Kiessling.

“How is Faith doing?”

That is probably the question I have heard the most in the last five years.  Every time I get asked that question, I have the same general answer:  “She is doing okay, but the doctors still have not figured out _____.” I shock myself with how many medical terms I now understand without ever having gone to medical school, and I am only 15!

Faith Victoria Smith was born on December 23, 2008.  I was so excited to have a second sister -- now it matched my two brothers!  She is the best Christmas present I have ever received, but she is also the most challenging one.  Faith was born with a genetic disorder called Trisomy 18, which means that she has an extra 18th chromosome.  Her disorder is similar to Trisomy 21 which is known as Downs Syndrome.  But Edwards Syndrome / Trisomy 18  is much harsher.

Faith is my miracle.  From the very beginning, she has fought for her life, and my parents have fought for hers, but what people oftentimes forget is that I have fought with her.  When she was around the age of two, she started having major issues that required months and months in the hospital.  My mom and dad took turns staying with her at all hours, but I was there too -- sitting in those horrid hospital chairs watching my sister fight for life.  When we were not allowed to see her for over a month, as she was in the PICU and no one under 16 was allowed in, I was the one staying at home trying to keep our house and my siblings from falling apart.  People were very gracious and brought us so much food we had to start freezing it!  But whenever anyone came over, they asked the same question, “How is Faith doing?”

I understood, because I would ask the same thing. Yet the question that I was never asked is, “How are you doing?” I am not trying to sound jealous or like I deserve all the attention, but it would have been nice to have been asked.  The truth is that I was not doing well.  I was watching my sister struggle to even breathe.  I was trying to be strong for my mom who already felt bad about not being with us.  I was trying to stay strong for my sister who would cry herself to sleep every night listening to a recording of my mom reading her a book. I was trying to stay strong for my brothers who did not know what to do, but in reality I did not know what to do.  None of us did.

Thankfully, we all made it.  What a happy and joyous day when Faith came home!  But our troubles were -- and still -- are far from over.  Even still, Faith has grown into the cutest little girl you will ever see, though I know I am biased!  She has feeding problems, breathing issues, and can barely see a thing.  Yet, she is loved, cared for, and part of a crazy, loud, and happy family. 

Our family was sitting at an event in a row of chairs, with my parents and Faith at the end.  A man walked down our row to my mom and asked if Faith would like a piece of candy.  He showed her a handful of different “fun size” candies.  My mom graciously declined the offer since Faith cannot eat food through her mouth.  The man walked past the rest of us kids without offering any.  I know that it does not seem like a big deal, but it was to us kids.  We were hurt that someone could walk past us like that without giving us a second thought.  We were invisible.  There have been so many instances where we were ignored because all the attention was on Faith.  My sister, Hope, was once standing next to Faith.  A woman came up and told Faith for 15 minutes how pretty and cute she was.  She never said a word to Hope about how pretty she was, and Hope is a real cutie!  Special needs siblings are invisible at times.

Yet I would not trade Faith for the world!  No matter how much people ignore me or forget about me, I would not give her up for anything.  In fact, I would take her pain from her in a second so she could be free to run, dance, and play.  I do not know why God blessed me with her.  I am far from deserving of her, but I am so grateful to God that I can be her big sister!  It is such a joy to watch her grow and thrive, contrary to the belief of what the world says.  I think most special needs siblings would agree with me when I say that God sent us our special needs siblings to bring our families closer together.  I have grown so much more in the past 5 years with Faith than I could have ever grown in my whole lifetime without her.  She is by far the best thing that God has given me, and I am so excited to see what God does with my Faith!

Although my family has always been pro-life, I came to realize that we as Christians must do more than say we are pro-life.  We need to be pro-life.  Doctors told my parents three times in a half-hour to abort my sister.  Last year, I felt God lay on my heart to start a pro-life group with my good friend Crissy.  We landed on the name Operation Abolish Abortion.  We have taken criticism for the name we chose, but we have chosen to keep it because we think God gave it to us.  I believe abortion should be abolished.  90% of kids that have what Faith has are killed without ever having a chance at life.  And their siblings are affected by the decision of abortion without anyone ever knowing it.  They will never have the same compassion for people that they might have had if that child had been born.  They will never experience the hardships and great joys that would have shaped their lives for the better.  They will never know their brother or sister.  I truly feel sorry for those who have not had a special needs sibling, because they would have only been blessed.

In the end, this is how special needs siblings could be handled better:  Do ask us about our brother or sister.  We are proud of them and want you to know all about them, but ask us about how we are.  See if there is anything you could do.  I know the thing that has helped me best was trying to keep life as normal as possible because this is the new normal.   I also enjoyed getting together with friends while Faith was in the hospital.  It helped me to cope.  What I want you to take away from this is to never forget the brothers and sisters of disabled kids. They are having a harder time than you think they are.  They are hoping and praying that their sibling lives.  So hope and pray with them.  Encourage them.  Love them.

Grace Smith, 15, is homeschooled in Michigan, and is the co-founder of Operation Abolish Abortion.  Her parents Brad and Jesi Smith are pro-life speakers with Save The 1 --  Read more about their family's journey to save Faith and to successfully pass their Good Faith Medical Act in Michigan.
Thursday, August 21, 2014

It's Not My Child Who Has to Change or Be Eliminated To Make Society a Better Place

by Christine Pokriefka

After I read an article about athiest Richard Dawkins tweeting out that it is "immoral" to not abort babies with Down Syndrome because they are "diagnosed before they have human feelings," I posted some comments on Facebook, then I took my son for a car ride. The quote by Richard Dawkins was more personal than I could initially say. Those who know me would instantly understand this, because my son has Down Syndrome.

As we drove along a country-like road, I had the sound track to "Frozen" playing. My son was smiling, rocking to the music and attempting to sing along to something that just made him happy. I looked over my shoulder at him and he just smiled this really sweet, happy smile that was really more like a grin.

I couldn't get Richard Dawkin's words out of my head as I watched my son. The tears soon came because I knew in my heart that it's not my child (or those like him) who has to change or be eliminated to make society a better place; but the HEARTS of society that need to change toward my son and other children with Down Syndrome. When those hearts truly change and they can see my son -- and other children like him -- as a gift, THEY will be changed forever by pure goodness, and hopefully with that new understanding will share that kindness and inherent love to others. What a better world it would be!

My niece -- young yet wise -- is able to articulate that God has created everyone with a purpose.

God's knowledge, wisdom and timing are much greater than our human understanding. I think if everyone were perfect, we would completely lose the gift of compassion. The world has become so unbalanced, and immune to things like dignity, a simple kindness, and charity -- it is alarming.

It is humbling to be in the presence of someone with Down Syndrome, who really likes you just because; loves you even more; and gives hugs with sincere warmth and just wants to "be" with you -- no ulterior motives. Your appearance does not matter to him, so why should his appearance matter to you?

I can never pretend to know the answers to life's mysteries, and it's probably better that way. There will always be joy, suffering, love and hate. I would rather have a child with Down Syndrome who loves genuinely, and I hope through his example of true goodness, unselfishness, and beaming joy that a little healing will result in this world.
That sounds like purpose to me.

BIO: Christine Pokriefka is a wife and mother, a marketing professional, an artist and a blogger for Save The 1
Wednesday, August 20, 2014

You’re glad I’m here? by Nick D'Angelo

Pro-Choice Student: Are you still pro-life in cases of rape?

Nick: Yes, I don’t see the crimes of a father as justification for abortion.

Pro-Choice Student: The kid is just going to be a painful reminder for the mother and detrimental to society.

Nick: Well, I was conceived in date-rape.

Pro-Choice Student: Oh….Well, I’m glad you’re here.

I have heard it multiple times in various situations, “Oh…I’m glad you’re here.”  This comes immediately after I’ve shared with someone who professes a pro-choice stance, using rape or another hard case as their silver bullet; that I was conceived in date-rape. The statement has always confused and bothered me, and here are 5 reasons why.

1: First of all, it is not a matter of “here” vs “there”; it is a matter of alive or killed in my most vulnerable state.

This common word choice is a symptom of the hedging done to preserve the moral superiority assertion within the argument. If the arguer wishes to maintain the status of loving people, and for that reason advocating abortion, they must somehow provide exemptions and softened word choice when dealing with me, a person to be aborted under their paradigm, in front of them.

2: You are not actually glad I’m here but feel socially awkward saying disparaging comments to someone in front of you.

I suppose I appreciate the pretense but I think a far more important conversation would be had without it. Are you not glad I’m here because I disagree with you on this very sensitive subject?
I understand how one could become defensive with such topics but I think this attitude stands directly against the culture of tolerance my opposition tends to preach. Please have a real conversation with me, let me know your honest reservations and genuine concerns; personal and societal growth can’t occur without it.

3: You are truly glad I’m alive because of the condition of my life.

This is rather subjective and wholly inconsistent with the rest of the pro-choice rhetoric. The rape exception is used to highlight the struggles both the mother and child may have as a product of the conception circumstances: financial, emotional, legal, social, educational and boundless others. Therefore, what makes me valuable? Is it because I graduated college that I am valuable to you? Is it because of the wonderful relationship I have with my mother? Is it because I am an employed contributor to society? Is it because I am not a felon? Valuing a life based on such arbitrary and subjective conditions ultimately states that I only matter if _____ is true. Are you willing to say that I’m valuable because I fit your criteria instead of having inherent worth? Are you willing to tell others the opposite?

 4: You are truly glad I’m alive but still hold the stance that abortion is a woman’s choice by right.

If you are pro-choice: The expression of happiness/gladness in this situation, if not affected by the conditional reasoning in #3, implies preference. If you are happy I am alive, you would therefore be unhappy if I was aborted. If abortion is therefore the morally inferior or at least less preferred choice, why would you openly support the inferior choice? What about the choice to abort when gender selection is the reasoning, is that choice still valid and absolute? The defense that abortion is an absolute right, and an owed choice, is flawed in its framing; choices are always present but consequences, however, are not. Something that is illegal can still be perpetrated, but the justice system has structured consequences to reduce the frequency and magnitude of a given transgression. Laws inherently speak to the “right” action in a given condition. If abortion is the inferior option, why is the law not obligated to match such sentiments?  

If you are pro-life: I have only seen this as the trepidation to preach or “push” your beliefs upon another person for fear of impropriety or extremism. If instead of pregnant women in cars going to Planned Parenthood, you saw mothers walking their 2 year olds in and leaving alone, I believe your fears of speaking out and asserting your beliefs would be given proper perspective in such issues of life and death.

5: You are truly glad I’m alive because I am human and therefore inherently valuable, unlike the preborn.

Ultimately every discussion boils down to this decision. Are the pre-born human and when, if at all, is abortion permitted? The most typical line for personhood is birth and this is faulted because it cannot be applied. It does not require being human to exit a birth canal upon fulfillment of gestation, no uniquely human trait is found therein. Terminology such as embryo and fetus along with the small size and number of cells existent at the time are used to exhibit development as the qualifier. Fetus and embryo were never intended to designate something or someone as sub-human, it is a mere development/age association akin to child, teen etc. Even application of development, be it age or physical condition cannot be evenly applied across the pre-born or the born. If enforced, many people would lose their right to life by simply not meeting the qualifications set forth by others. The only undeniable facet of personhood is genetic makeup, and this is established upon conception. Any other qualifying factor for one being human cannot be evenly applied with any significance or without discrimination based on an arbitrary and superficial line.

We must all thoroughly consider the full and even application of the ideologies we espouse. I hope these conversations can be had, for they are desperately needed. Please do so civilly, but also full of honesty and passion.

Human life is inherently valuable and deserves protection, I beg you to fight for it.

My name is Nicholas Charles D’Angelo, and my mother chose life for me.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Is There No Place for the Disabled in Church?

By Jesi Smith: Wife, Mother of 5, Chief of Household Operations, Superintendent, Personal Nurse, Defender of "the least of these" and speaker.

I am new to this journey. My daughter is only 5 years old. She is mentally and physically disabled, still small enough to carry, quiet…mostly, and has not developed the larger, louder, and strange movements and sounds that most older people who are mentally and physically disabled seem to develop as they try to express themselves – yet. We have taken our daughter to concerts, plays, movie theatres, political speeches, and community events, and spend a lot of time in hallways and lobbies when she gets loud however, the hardest place to take a child with special needs is to church. We have found the cardinal sin of the Sunday service is not sexual immorality, lying, theft, or heresy.  No, it is having  distracting movements or loud sounds during worship or the message.

He is probably in his early 40’s and he is mentally disabled. Every week his mom brings him faithfully to church. There is a section in the back of the sanctuary where many families sit with their children of all ages with special needs. It is definitely a group that makes a joyful noise during worship and after the offering is taken they all leave to go to a special class during the sermon. But this week was different, her son was playing the tambourine that he brought every Sunday to worship God, one of the only ways he expresses praise to God, and a member of the church staff came up to him and asked that he not to use it in service anymore. It was disturbing to other people and it was distracting the band on stage.  

The mother was crushed, embarrassed, and offended. This is not supposed to be a concert but worship from all the people, right? She had worked hard all these years to take him, a grown man – which is no small task, out of the sanctuary when loud and for years has taught the special needs Sunday school class. She often is not able to join in the worship or listen to the sermon herself, so that her son and others like him can be taught the word of God. Now the one place that both her and her son could join with the church in the praise and worship was not available to her either. Why work so hard to come if even during a loud praise and worship service with everyone singing , keyboards, drums, and guitars he was not able to join in? Was his worship so offending among hundreds of others who may be clapping offbeat or singing off key that he was asked to stop? Put the church on the list of all the places that your special needs child cannot go and participate.

Do not get me wrong I know children can be a distraction and need to be taken out of the service when loud whether a crying baby, fidgeting toddler, or even my special needs daughter, but is there never to be a church that gives the mentally and physically disabled enough time or grace to stay in and adjust to a service? Is there no place for the disabled in corporate worship? Must they always be sent out to the lobby alone or to a room to sit alone? 

Many may not realize they and their parents have probably sacrificed more than most other church members just to show up to church. They probably have spent hours with parents or caregivers getting ready and getting in and out of their vehicle with wheelchairs, walkers, and medical equipment. They have likely spent most of their week in the hospital or battling illness at home and this may be one of the few Sundays they could even come to church this year. However, they will not spend this Sunday with the body of Christ being ministered to, but out in the hallway.

If the church truly wants to serve the “least of these” you have found that group in the disabled. How many people with disabilities come to your church? Where are all the people with handicaps anyway? They have nothing to offer the church. No money, no volunteering, no inviting their friends, they may be unlovely to look at, make weird noises, have improper behaviors,  spit more than normal, throw up routinely,  and do not even offer “acceptable” praise and worship. Many of them are unwanted even by their own parents. 

Over 90% of babies with a disability like our daughters are aborted. They are a group who cannot speak for themselves, cannot go where they want to go, or even eat or go to the bathroom without help . They ought to be honored as the most patient among us. The disabled who have been brought to the church are among the blessed few. 

First they are blessed to be alive, cared for, and well enough to attend;  second to have a parent or caregiver who love them enough to battle the process of getting them to the church.  Please do not send them out into the lobby or to an empty room to sit alone after all they have struggled with and endured just to make it into your doors. An update on the mentally disabled man with the tambourine – he refuses to play it anymore.
Thursday, August 14, 2014


My mother was raped; many would say I am the rapist’s baby.  Those mothers who have been raped will quickly say their child is their baby, not the rapist’s.  In my case, I was never the rapist’s baby, nor my mother’s.
Mary Rathke, Savethe1 Speaker from Michigan
Mothers whether you love them or hate them, they are always yours.  Deep down you know that when trouble comes, your mom will be there for you.  She may give lots of unwanted advice at times, but at least she is there to give it.  For women who are mentally ill like my birth mother, who is schizophrenic, correct motherly responses are almost impossible.  When I was born, Michigan still had state mental hospitals, and she had many visits there.  While she was finishing a stay in the mental hospital after I was born, a local couple cared for me.  When she got out, they tried to teach her how to care for me. Under her care, I would go all day not being fed or changed; when the crying would not end, her husband would call for help.
The local couple, Ursula and Zara Hunter, continued to step in to help when asked.  When I was five years old I was legally adopted by the couple. Before this, I was an orphan.  My biological father discarded me the moment I was conceived through his horrible act forced upon a mentally and physically defenseless woman. Though it’s possible that on her good days, my biological mother wanted me, she was not capable of caring for me.  Through no fault of her own, a mental illness robbed me of a relationship with her.
When people hear that I’m adopted, the first thing they ask is, “Do you know who your ‘real’ parents are?”  My response is always the same: “Yes, their names are Ursula and Zara Hunter.”  But I know what they are really asking.  After visiting my biological mother and her husband almost 15 years ago, I didn’t go back for a long time.  My mother seemed quiet and, at times, indifferent about the visit but answered the basic questions I asked.  After this visit, bizarre behavior surfaced.  I was told by her legal guardian at the time, not to visit again.  I continued to visit her husband when I could and sent pictures of my family.  He explained that if she got to the mail before he did, she would rip up the pictures explaining that she did not have a daughter or grandchildren.
When her husband died, she acknowledge me at the funeral.  Afterwards, I made more of an effort to write and would occasionally ask if I could stop by for a visit.  She did not respond to the requests.  However, a few weeks ago I received a response to my most recent attempt to connect.  Her written response to, “Can I stop by to visit?” was, “I don’t care what you do. Make your own decision. Sincerely, your Mother.”
What to do?  Stop and hope it’s a good day, or always wonder if she was having a bad?  Since we were going through the area that evening, I decided to stop.  I must admit it’s difficult to see how she lives, and her behavior.  The visit was short and my family stayed in the car.
My hope is to visit again, but I know that it will never be a normal situation.  So does that mean I should have been aborted?  What if my traumatic conception and birth always cause her pain? Would having an abortion have made that pain go away?  I have heard so many women tell me that they regret the abortion they had after being raped-that the abortion made it worse not better.  What about the grandchildren she doesn’t want to see? Are they not real because their mother was conceived in rape? Of course not! Their lives matter as does mine.  Yes, the memories will last a lifetime, but the pregnancy only lasted nine months. But an abortion would not have ended the memories, only my life.  I may not have the fairy tale ending many who have been adopted dream about. The reality of that makes me even more grateful I was adopted and not aborted. 
I was never given away, I was given a family!
 Edited by Shawn Spry
Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Inconvenient Truths

By Darlene Pawlik, Savethe1 speaker-  practicing nurse, wife and mother of 5, conceived in rape, molested by her biological father, then became pregnant by rape after being trafficked from age 14-18, when she escaped to a maternity home to avoid a forced abortion.

When Norma McCorvey was approached, she agreed to the terms laid out by the lawyers; she would sign the documents they'd prepared.  Norma was Jane Roe of Roe v. Wade. 

The laws protected most preborn babies in Texas.  The lawyers challenged the law by claiming Roe was raped.  The child, having been conceived by rape, they insisted, was too much of a burden.  After all, who would force a woman to carry a baby conceived by rape? 

Please note; there is a baby.  A baby indistinguishable from a baby conceived by any other means.  A baby, just as valuable as one conceived with wine and roses.  A baby, fully human and most definitely alive.

Norma had her baby.  The case was for the rest of us.  It is a curious position to be in, to be designated as a classification of people who are legally killed.  Of course, it is for a limited time only.

The case, coupled with Doe v. Bolton, actually allowed abortion on demand for any reason at any time during pregnancy.  Roe was decided, in case of rape, but Bolton had provisions for health of the mother, including, but not limited to financial, medical, emotional or social.  Did I leave anything out?  I think not.

Rape was on the rise in the '60s & '70s.  There are reasons that would require a chapter of a book to explain.  Which I did in my book.   The important thing to note today is that rape is even more prevalent now.  

We live in a highly sexualized and increasingly violent culture.  Rape conception is not rare anymore. Savethe1 President, Rebecca Kiessling, has over a hundred people conceived by rape or born from rape in her contacts.  

Think about that for a moment.  Those are just the people who know they are conceived by rape and have made an effort to become a community.  How many more are there?

Since before the Roe Decision by the Supreme Court, there have been concerned people who actively worked to  create networks of people to combat the evil of abortion.  These activists banded together to strategize and protest abortion, to come up with solutions to crisis pregnancy and to educate the general public about the forthcoming tragedy.

In New England, Warren Goddard and Kathy Souza were among the forerunners and are still active today.  They gathered and fought the tide with a 100% ProLife stand. 

They are called ProLifers.  Sadly today, I am told, up to 60% of people who attest to being ProLife are ProLife with exceptions for rape, incest, fetal anomaly and life of the mother. That was the very basis of Roe in the first place!

Let's break it down; the baby is still a baby.  

  • Even if he was conceived by force.  
  • Even with fetal anomaly, she is still a child.  
  • Even in rare cases wherein the lives of mother and child are mutually endangered, the doctor has two patients; doctors must do their best to save both.  If one is lost, it is sad, but we should not advocate the intentional killing of the baby in order to potentially save the mother.
  • Every exception is a person.
  • Every one deserves the Right to Life.
  • Every one has inestimable value and potential that no one could possibly foretell. 

Norma changed her mind. She knows the truths above.
Sure, there are hard cases.  Life is messy, but we must take the high ground. 

We can provide positive, life affirming solutions for women that are in crisis situations.  Let's tackle the crisis. Find out what she really needs and provide materially, emotionally, finically or other. 

I thank God for so many who, get it. National Personhood Alliance gets it. Visit NPA No exceptions, no compromise groups insist on logic to prevail in the discussion about certain classes of people to whom the Right to Life applies.

Let's bring America back to Life is NPA's motto.  Do you think we can bring the US back to Life?