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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

My Child is a Fetal Anomaly, Exception, and Medical Decision??? by Brad Smith

The South Carolina legislature is working to pass a 20-week abortion ban that will not include rape or incest exceptions; however it will have an exception. Dr. Robert Ridgeway, democrat representative, said their committee decided to add exceptions only for “fetal anomaly.” 
“Ridgeway, a trained medical doctor, said that the fetal anomaly exception should be left on because it’s essentially a medical decision to be made by a doctor.” (quote from a story at www.RHRealityCheck.org)

Let’s stop and think about that for a moment. Here is a doctor referring to a child in the womb as a “fetal anomaly.” He also says “it’s essentially a medical decision.” Dr. Ridgeway, who made you, the doctor, the arbiter of life and death? Why do you refer to a disabled child as a medical decision? Your statement does not even consider the parents in the decision making. For years, I have been telling about doctors who do not want these special needs children to even be born. In one statement, you have confirmed everything about the kind of doctor who pretends to be God.

Well Dr. Ridgeway, I would like to introduce you to one of your “fetal anomaly exceptions.” Kayden is a sweet young man with Trisomy 18 which is considered by most doctors to be “incompatible with life.” 

Today I read a post by Kayden’s mom, Marta McClanahan, and I thought that you should read it too.

My sweetest Kayden is 14 years old TODAY!! WOW *tears* Tears of JOY and tears of sadness all in one. We are so incredibly BLESSED and thankful that we have Kayden in our lives. Most of you know that we were told Kayden wouldn't live more than a couple weeks or months if we were lucky, but here we are, and he has come so far and is so amazing in so many ways.
As I was walking through the store last night, it HIT me that Kayden is 14 and should be asking for all kinds of stuff for his birthday. He should be playing sports and running around with friends, annoying the heck out of me and crushing on GIRLS! It saddens me that he can't talk or walk and has to eat his food through a tube. I kept thinking of the fact that no matter how old he is, his life is never safe and we truly have no clue how long he will be here with us; especially considering that we have lost a lot of Trisomy friends this year. Kayden is getting so big, and I worry about the fact that I can’t afford an accessible minivan and then wonder how much longer will my back take carrying him? With these things running through my head, I couldn't help crying as I walked through the store. I just couldn't hold it in. I don't think of these things often at all in order to LIVE every day and because Kayden does very well and is so strong. But for some reason, my fears took over my thoughts last night.
Today I SMILE, and quickly I am reminded looking through all his photos just how amazing, happy, strong and HEALTHY he is. I’m THANKFUL that he is smaller for his age so I CAN carry him and love feeling him pat my back and laugh as I do. I wouldn't change that for anything. This smiley boy, whose grin warms everyone's heart just by looking at him, has done so much in his 14 years that most other "able bodied" people have not.
He can say “momma” and sign mom and dad. That in itself is amazing as many Trisomy kids cannot. He has dipped his sweet bootie in the ocean and grazed his feet through the soft sands of Florida and California more than once. He has been to BOTH Disneyland and Disney world; down the water slides at Wisconsin Dells; felt the warmth of Arizona's sun; strolled down the board walk in Chicago; enjoyed camp bonfires in Illinois; had fun on rides at MOA "the biggest mall in America;" has won turtle races; zip lined with his momma; ridden in go karts; has touched so many lives bringing others to the Lord; and helped SAVE other Trisomy babies by his story being shared with doctors and other parents who almost didn't go through with their pregnancy. Because of Kayden, I have started my own non-profit called "Trisomy Families" and have gone to speak at Bioethics conferences to help FIGHT for kids just like him.

YES, there are so many things Kayden can't do but there are so many things he CAN!!! Anyone who knows my adorable amazing son will tell you that even though he can’t talk (well, he does say momma), his eyes and smile say it all. He LOVES life, and he LOVE'S his family, and we LOVE him too, and that's all that matters. HAPPY BIRTHDAY MY SWEET BOY!!!! I pray for many more. Thank you Jesus for my baby boy.

In this post, Marta expresses so well the struggles, but also the unparalleled joys of parenting a special needs child. Dr. Ridgeway, as a fellow parent of a Trisomy 18 child, I understand exactly how much Marta loves her son and how much Kayden loves his family. Clearly he is not a fetal anomaly, exception, nor medical decision. He is a human being with inalienable rights and deserves his right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. No doctor or person has the right to make a “medical decision” to snuff out the life of a child simply because of a disability.

Dr. Ridgeway, after reading this and seeing Kayden, I only have one more question for you. Why do you despise children with disabilities and want to make them an exception to be terminated?


Happy BIRTHday Kayden!!


Brad Smith and his wife Jesi are Save The 1 pro-life speakers @ savethe1.com  from Rochester Hills, Michigan. Learn more about Brad and Jesi at www.keepingourfaith.com












Wednesday, June 17, 2015

7 Month Pregnant Gang Rape Victim From India Didn't Really Want an Abortion by Rebecca Kiessling

7-month pregnant gang rape survivor denied a late-term abortion by the Gujurat high court in India.  With those kinds of news stories, we regularly see organizations like Amnesty International and Planned Parenthood International utilizing such stories to demand the legalization of abortion through all nine of months of pregnancy – not only for rape, but for any reason.  Rape is just the key to open wide the abortion door. 

But what if you learned the rest of the story?  What if there is more to these stories than is initially being reported? This particular pregnant rape survivor’s treatment is amongst the worst I’ve ever read or heard, and it completely demonstrates why abortion is not the answer, and how we need a complete cultural shift worldwide in how pregnant rape victims are treated, and how a child conceived in rape should be welcomed and accepted.
According to the petition for abortion, the married 24 year old from Botad, India and mother of two other children, alleged that her husband had abandoned her and wanted her to terminate the 28-week pregnancy at any cost.  But two months later and ready to deliver, her husband stands by her and she now says that part of her wanted to keep her unborn child, but her fate and the baby’s was in the hands of 100-200 people from her community.  So as with most pregnant rape survivors, she didn’t really want the abortion to begin with, but was under pressure from those close to her and from her community!
Her in-laws have shunned her, and because her husband is standing by her, he is now outcast from his own family.  To make matters worse, their community is requiring her to go through a “purification ritual”or test with a tantric  – a type of high priest known for black magic.  Tantrics have administered “justice” in the community long before the courts and police were ever established.
Her own parents are supporting this purification test out of fear for what will happen to them and their two other yet unmarried children once she gives birth to this child conceived out of rape.  If the tantric doesn’t clear her, then her siblings will never be able to marry.

The ritualistic test involves the tantric interrogating the rape victim, then testing her veracity “by taking a pinch of barley seeds from a bag and asking her to say whether the number of seeds in his hand are even-numbered or odd.”  She is then repeatedly subjected to this process, including with a 10kg stone upon her head, which must remain in place until the tantric is satisfied that she is telling the truth.  This ritual can reportedly take months to complete, under the belief that a Goddess will reveal the truth.  If in the end, the rape victim passes the test, then no one can banish or condemn her; if not, then she is considered “impure” and is ostracized from the community, along with her extended family members.

Not only does she have to endure this grueling process within her community, she is also currently seeking help from the Chief Minister of a law enforcement agency because she says that the local police is protecting her primary rapist who held her captive for 250 days – 8 months, because he is wealthy and influential.  Thus far, she has not been able to obtain justice through law enforcement.   Not only has he not been arrested, but she and her mother received threats from his bodyguard.   When denying the abortion in mid-April, the High Court judge did grant her and her family police protection.  
In addition, the Court appointed a “Collector” to “ensure that proper medical facilities are provided,” that “the child is delivered safely” and “shall also see to it that after the delivery, the child is looked after well and is not abandoned in any manner.  If necessary, the Collector can avail of the services of any NGO or any other government social organization in any manner.”
The language from the High Court is encouraging;  however, India has a deplorable track record in obtaining any justice for rape victims.  In fact, in February of this year – while she was in captivity, the Supreme Court of India sparked international outrage when it ruled that there is no such thing as marital rape in India – a nation where daughters are sold to the highest bidder because dowry is still practiced and marriages are commonly arranged.  In the case at-hand, the rapist obtained her thumb print on a notary, and used a tantric to pronounce her married to the rapist, since they were well aware of the recent high court ruling.  None of those involved – from the notary to the tantric to the multiple rapists – have been arrested or even sought and named by the local police.
Yet, while the rapist and his accomplices run free, many would argue that the innocent child should have been punished by being put to death.  The relevant law in India is the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act (MTPA) which does not permit abortion beyond 20 weeks, on the grounds that late-term abortions are dangerous for a woman’s health.  Gujurat High Court Justice J B Pardiwala cited the fact that her life would be in peril with a 28-week abortion, then added the following:  “A child in her womb by a woman as a result of conception through an act of rape is not only extremely traumatic for her but humiliating, frightening and psychologically devastating and as a human being, more particularly in the Indian society, she becomes an object of scorn and ostracisation. This is very unfortunate.”
But this Justice recognized that abortion is not the answer, and as cited above, he took the necessary steps to see that she would have solid health care, and that the child would be nurtured and protected.  Therein lies the solution.
Can you imagine if instead of enacting laws with rape exceptions, legislators instead passed laws providing for special medical care for the delivery of rape-conceived children, and for the appointment of someone like the “Collector” in India who would ensure that these children and their mothers are properly cared for and not ostracized or abandoned?  That’s the answer.  Punish rapists, not babies and their rape survivor mothers.  Protect babies and their mothers – not rapists.  How hard it that to understand?
BIO:  Rebecca Kiessling is an attorney and international pro-life speaker, conceived in rape. She’s the founder and president of Save The 1 and co-founder of Hope After Rape Conception.
Monday, June 1, 2015

Though Conceived Through Step-Father Rape at Age 13, My Daughter is a Blessing by Cherie Miller

“I thought I was a broken person.”  That’s what I explained to my husband just after I told him my story. 

My mom married my stepfather while she was still pregnant with me, so it wasn’t until years later that I found out he was not my biological father.  I never knew my biological father -- it was a family secret, and to this day, I still don’t know him.  This family secret was not the only one, but secrets can become normal for someone unless they are revealed. 

Growing up was “normal” for me, I thought.  I have three younger brothers  -- all who were born to my mother and stepfather.  We did the things families normally do:  camping, fishing, and celebrating birthdays and holidays.  We went to movies, laughed together and enjoyed playing outside.  We occasionally went to church.   One thing which wasn’t truly normal however, was the secret between me and my stepfather.  From as young as I can remember, he sexually molested me.  I knew nothing different.  As I said, I thought it was normal.  This was a secret no one knew – a secret he told me I must keep, and I was too terrified to tell anyone anyway.  I’m guessing someone around us may have suspected something, but we moved a lot -- five times by the time I was in 7th grade.

This horrible secret went on for years and probably would have never been completely revealed until one day when I started having abdominal pain which got worse as the day went on.  I told my mom and she brought me to the doctor.   At the age of thirteen, I was in labor, and I was absolutely scared to death!  I was worried about mom and how devastating this would be for her to find out, and fear of what would happen next.  But while in the hospital, no one asked me who the father was.  Today, as a health care professional, this would have been the first thing I would have asked, and I would not have wanted a 13 year old mother to be sent home without knowing she was safe.

Now, as you all know, you must first be pregnant before you can go into labor, right?  Yes, I had been pregnant for several months.   I remember feeling the baby move, but I was scared, and perhaps in denial.   I was 13, and although my body was feeling different, I really never showed.  Without showing, nobody asked any questions, and without questions, the secret could continue, and I just lived it.  This was my “normal.”  But going into labor was the inconvenient truth nobody could keep covered. 

My mom is an incredibly strong woman.  I can’t imagine what was going through her mind at that time, but she never left my side.  What pain must she have endured wondering who had done this to her daughter?  She later told me that her immediate thought was that one of the fathers of the children I babysat did this to me.  My brother revealed to me years later that he suspected what was going on because he saw his father going into my room regularly, but he was young and scared as well.

I gave birth to a beautiful, healthy baby girl.  The first thing I remember is that I cried, and I felt happy.  There was this little person laying on my belly, she was crying, I was looking at her, and I was in awe that she was just so beautiful!  When I looked at her I didn’t see him, I didn’t see the crappy stuff that was going on in my life – I didn’t see any of that.  I just saw her. 

After being cleaned up, a nurse brought my daughter back into the room again.  It was late at night and I couldn’t sleep because I was worried about her.  I felt relief to see her again and to hold her, knowing she was healthy.   All I could think of was about the better life I knew she was going to have.   I didn’t want to bring her into my horrible situation since I had no hope it would end.  Being only thirteen and in light of everything which I knew was to come, I chose adoption for her.   The heaviness in my heart was gone as I thought of the good life she would have.

I thought life as “normal” would go on, and we quickly just forgot everything.   We did not speak about who did this to me.  My baby went to a foster home while awaiting placement with an adoptive family, and I returned to live with my brothers, mother, and yes, even stepfather.  The lie continued, though my stepfather avoided me.   Life was going back to “normal.”  However, the truth was about to come out.

About a week after I went home, the social worker I was assigned to at the hospital had my mom and me come to her office.  At the social worker’s insistence, I told my secret.   I felt like I had crushed my mom’s heart!   In my mind, I had deceived her.   In my mind, I was destroying her marriage.   In my mind, it was all my fault this was happening.   Amazingly, my mom believed me without doubt and she supported me.   I felt like a thousand-pound brick was lifted off my shoulders!  The healing could begin.  However, because of everything that had occurred, I requested to go to a foster home.  My request was granted.

 I was placed in foster care with wonderful people.  My stepfather was arrested.  At trial, he was convicted and sentenced to 90 days in jail with work release, and 15 years of probation.   That’s not much of a sentence.  He got off easy in my mind.  But he denied ever having intercourse with me – never penetrating, claiming he masturbated and that I was somehow inseminated that way.  Preposterous, right?  And yet, he apparently got away with that story.

While I was in the foster home, my stepfather returned home with my mom and brothers.  My mom was raised in a strong Catholic family, and was too ashamed to let her parents know the dark secret.  She’s also struggled from a low self-esteem.  I was just glad to be out of there at the time.  We all started family counseling, and I personally went to counseling.  That was a real blessing for me.  I learned I could heal and maybe become a whole person for the first time in my life. 

After a year in foster care, I returned home.  I had hopes that this would be a positive turning point.  I still had no idea that he was not my biological father.  Looking back, I think the system was entirely screwed up that they would send me back and is still in need of reform.  All of us lived together, including my stepfather, under one roof.  “Normal” unfortunately had returned.  It was difficult for me, but I was young and I thought we could just move on.  That lasted about six months before my stepfather attempted molesting me again.  I told a high school friend, who told her mom who was a nurse, who then contacted the authorities.  He was ordered to leave the home, but was not arrested.  My mom was angry and she finally began standing up for herself, and for me.  They divorced, but no more jail time.

I was almost 16 at that time.  My remaining teenage years were a struggle.  My mom was raising four children alone.  She worked multiple jobs and received no child support.  In public, I felt like I was “that girl that was molested by her father” and everyone in school and town knew it.  It felt like it was “stamped” on my forehead.  It was very hard for me.  One thing I really enjoyed in high school that did make me feel like I belonged was cheerleading.  My advisor was incredible and I never felt like the outsider with her.  I spent a lot of my teenage years trying to get away from my past.  I drank.  I did things I shouldn’t have.  I just wanted to forget and move on.  The truth was painful and I just wanted to find a new “normal.”  But the truth of my past always found me. 

After high school, I joined the National Guard so I could get away from those who knew, and hopefully get away from the memories as well.  I did have positive people in my life who continually encouraged me and stood by me.  But even with all the encouragement, as a young adult I was definitely going down the wrong road.  I had unhealthy abusive relationships, including a failed marriage.  I drank a lot of alcohol.  I got to the point where I didn’t feel I was worth anything better.   I had gotten pregnant once again.  I now had a son and I was only 21.  It was just him and me.  I was determined to give him the best life that I could, but we struggled at times.

At about the age of 25, I decided I needed better for myself and I went to college.  Looking back, that was my turning point.  I finally was feeling I had found myself.  The more I went, the better and more confident I felt.  I had numerous uplifting positive people in my life.  I eventually remarried and had two more beautiful children.  I received my education as a nurse.   Nursing was definitely something important and rewarding to me.  My career eventually led me to a position as a health care educator.   I got away from the unhealthy things in my life with the help of more counseling.   My new normal was not perfect – unfortunately, I divorced once again, but things were slowly getting better.  Soon, things were about to get much better.

In December 2010, my brother received a letter from the county stating they were looking for me.  In my gut, I felt I knew it had something to do with my past.  I was fearful, but also confident I could take anything on now.  I called the agency and spoke with the county adoption advocate.  She asked if I had a baby in 1983 and gave her up for adoption.  My heart was in my throat.  I was waiting for this day and hoped at some point she would try to find me.  I thought about her all the time, wondered where she was, and what she looked like.  I prayed she had a great family and was healthy and successful, without the struggles I had growing up.  I said yes.  She said the young woman was looking for me!

One of my first questions was if she knew she was conceived in rape.  The county advocate thought she did in fact know.  All sorts of emotions came over me.  Would she hate me?  Was this going to be good for her?  Was it good for me?  How would this affect all of us? 

I received a letter from my newly found daughter.  She is married with two children.  After several letters and conversations on Facebook, we met in person in February, 2011.  Her parents and her husbands’ parents were amazingly supportive, encouraging, and so incredibly open to including me in their lives.  Words cannot express how thankful I am to them!  Perhaps my greatest gift was a photo album Heidi gave to me when we met.  It included pictures of Heidi growing up, her wedding, and pictures of my grandchildren.  In the front cover was a poem I’d never seen before and I was sobbing as I read it:

“Legacy of an adopted child”
Author unknown 

Once there were two women who never knew each other.
One you do not remember, one you call Mother.
Two different lives shaped to make you one.
One became your guiding star; the other became your sun.
The first one gave you life, and the second taught you to live it.
The first gave you a need for love.  The second was there to give it.
One gave you nationality.  The other gave you a name.
One gave you talent.  The other gave you aim.
One gave you emotions.  The other calmed your fears. 
One saw your first sweet smile.  The other dried your tears.
One sought for you a home that she could not provide. 
The other prayed for a child and her hope was not denied.
And now you ask me, through your tears,
The age-old question unanswered through the years.
Heredity or environment, which are you a product of?
Neither, my darling, Neither.  Just two different kinds of love. 

Having Heidi back in my life, I could now say that my “normal” was full and complete.  I felt like I was truly whole, and I still feel that way today.   Though she lives a couple of hours away, I try to visit as often as I can.  We see each other every couple of months on average and celebrate holidays and birthdays together.  I'm so incredibly proud of Heidi!  She's been accepting of knowing how she was conceived and still wanting to have a relationship with me.  Her parents are incredible!
 
Forgiveness was also something which had to happen.  This was hard.  He is no longer a part of my life, but I can say that I have forgiven him.  Without forgiveness, I don’t think I could have gotten to where I am today.  You have to choose in your life if you will be bitter or if you will forgive.  I chose to forgive.

In June 2012, I remarried to the most amazing man I have ever met!  Tim is the one I talked about in the beginning.  My story never scared him.  He has never judged me.  Tim encourages me,
challenges me, and loves me completely.  Here is a note my husband wrote for me after I told him my story:

“It is difficult for me to separate a person from their story.  It is what has formed them.  Our past and those who were an influence over us shape our values and our character.  The good and bad in all of us are cultivated by our experiences.  I would never wish on anyone what you had to endure over the years.  But this is your story and I love you for it.  You make me better.  You are the strongest woman I have ever met and you are kind, compassionate, and very patient with others.  I wouldn’t want you any different.  Because of that, however difficult your life may have been, I can accept it and be blessed by you because of it.  Looking at your life, I can see that many people were placed there by God to take care of you during difficult times. God bless you Cherie.”

I want my story to be one of hope and an understanding that despite how difficult life can be, there is always a future.  I believe God puts people in our lives to bless us and to be blessed by us.  We don’t always know who or when, or for how long.  But my challenge to you is to never think you are alone and to never give up hope.

BIO:  Cherie Miller is a wife and mother of four biological children, three step-children, and a birthmother to one.  Her husband Tim Miller is a 100% pro-life Minnesota State House Representative, representing District 17A, having worked as a grant writer for Habitat for Humanity before becoming a state rep..   Cherie is a nurse, teaching health care at a local college, and a blogger for Save The 1.  As a birthmother from rape, she's hoping to mentor others through sharing her story.

President Signs Rape Survivor Child Custody Act Into Law! by Rebecca Kiessling

After passing the U.S. Senate 99 to 0, our model legislation from Hope After Rape Conception -- the Rape Survivor Child Custody Act (H.R. 1257) -- was signed into law by President Obama on Friday!  Our co-founders from HARC, Shauna Prewitt and Analyn Megison worked very hard on this, working closely with House sponsor  Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D) and Senate sponsors Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) and Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R).

The Act provides an incentive to states to pass legislation providing for a means to terminate the parental rights of rapists, using the "clear and convincing evidence” standard from the U.S Supreme Court case of Santosky v Kramer.  25% of the grant funds are to be allocated to the STOP Violence Against Women Formula Grant Program, and 75% of funds go to the Sexual Assault Services Program.  The text of the Act reads that it:  "Directs the Attorney General to make grants to states that have in place a law that allows the mother of any child that was conceived through rape to seek court-ordered termination of the parental rights of her rapist with regard to that child, which the court shall grant upon clear and convincing evidence of rape."
 
In Analyn's home state of Florida, she got the legislature to pass this legislation unanimously, which is how Wasserman-Schultz heard of our model legislation.  Several states are currently working to pass this law, including Michigan and Maryland, while some states' legislation, like Pennsylvania, are insufficient because those bills require a rape conviction. 
 
Both Shauna and Analyn had to fight their rapists for custody.  Shauna is a practicing attorney who I met when I spoke at Georgetown Law while she was attending.  Analyn is a law grad too.  
 
Another board member, Angela Grogg, has been working on getting our model legislation passed in many states, ever since her family endured a court battle fighting her 14 year old daughter's rapist for custody.  
 
Several members of Save The 1 who were conceived in rape suffered molestation by their rapist fathers because they were not protected by law, including Darlene Pawlik and Rowena Slusser.  Other women from our organization, such as Robyn McLean and Darlene Pawlik's mom, were repeatedly raped as their rapist used contact with the child to continue raping her.  As you may expect, women associated with our organization are celebrating as this news came out!
 
We encourage every pro-life organization to get behind this legislation, as Right to Life of Michigan is currently championing this bill.  Not only is it pro-life in effect -- because pregnant rape victims will be more likely to choose life if they know they'll be protected from the rapist, but you'll be able to demonstrate that you really care about these women and their children, and you'll also have the advantage of seeing rape survivor mothers testifying before the legislature at a time when legislators walls are down. Just think of how powerful it is for rape-exception legislators and pro-choice legislators to hear the testimonies of these rape survivors and the love they have for their children -- just wanting them to be protected. 
 
Only a couple of states have this clear and convincing evidence standard, and many states still have nothing at all.  With this new law from Congress, it's the perfect time to begin working with your state legislators to properly protect rape survivor mothers and their children.
 
BIO: Rebecca Kiessling is an attorney and national pro-life speaker who was conceived in rape.  She's the president and founder of Save The 1 and co-founder of Hope After Rape Conception.