Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Exceptions for Fetal Anomalies Encourages Doctors' Coercion to Abort, by Sarah St. Onge

In 2010, I continued a pregnancy after my unborn child was diagnosed with a "lethal birth defect." During my pregnancy with Beatrix, {full story told here} I was repeatedly pressured by medical professionals to "terminate."

Because of the lack of support during my pregnancy, I have dedicated the last five years to supporting families faced with the same diagnosis we were given for our daughter. In addition, I joined support groups for women who choose to continue a pregnancy after a poor diagnosis, hoping to encourage women on their journey.  During this time, I have heard the stories of dozens of families who were pressured to "terminate" pregnancies after being given a poor pregnancy diagnosis. Whether the issue was with the child or with the woman carrying the child, these parents' refusal to consider late-term abortion was often met with derision on the part of health care providers.
A few months ago, I was introduced to a family who was expecting a sweet baby with Limb Body Wall Complex -- the same diagnosis of my daughter Beatrix. Their story of how they were treated by medical professionals is perhaps the worst I have ever heard.

Not only were they pressured to abort their baby, but when they refused, their doctor began a course of minimal care in an obvious effort to punish them for wasting his time.

He refused to spend more than five minutes with them at visits; he explained the medical challenges in a way that was incomprehensible for a layperson, thereby not providing them the information they needed to make a true medically informed decision; and, he was condescending toward them as if they were only making the decision to continue the pregnancy because they weren't smart enough to understand the gravity of the situation.  They understood the gravity.  They knew this was a lethal diagnosis, but just didn't want to be responsible for ending their baby's life.  

As if that treatment wasn't bad enough, he even refused to allow them to look at their baby on the ultrasound screen.  They requested to see their baby, and the physician outright refused.  The parents went to a mall which offered ultrasound services, paying out of pocket, just so they could have a glimpse of the baby they loved.  This may have been the only living picture they would have of their child, and they needed this memory of their child alive -- something others take for granted.

While this physicians was looking at their precious baby's face, he horrified them when he used the offensive term “not like a baby.”
Imagine this for a moment -- you’ve learned your baby will not live for long, if at all, outside of the womb.  Your only opportunity to see your child moving and alive may be in your doctor’s office on an ultrasound screen, yet your doctor turns the screen away telling you your child “isn’t like a baby”, -- refusing to allow you a glimpse of that tiny person in your body.

This was all after they had confirmed their decision to continue the pregnancy, and after they had already named their baby.
This physician’s personal bias didn’t stop at trying to manipulate a family into ending their baby's life, but included attempts to persuade them to travel out of state to procure the abortion, because they had already passed the legal gestational age of 24 weeks for late-term abortion in their own state.

Those of us who try to encourage women to continue their pregnancies hear these types of stories often.  It is tragically common for doctors to present "therapeutic abortion" as the normal course of "care" for a pregnancy in which an adverse diagnosis has been made.  Many doctors do not even broach the subject of continuing the pregnancy, simply asking pregnant mothers, “when should we schedule your termination?” after a diagnosis.  Most medical professionals assume that every woman wants to -- or should want to -- end a pregnancy where a child has been diagnosed with a lethal birth defect. In fact, when researching different lethal congenital disorders, you will often find "termination" listed as the “treatment” for the disorder!  This is not a woman-centered or parent-driven attitude, but a physician-driven attitude. 

In terms of parents' decision-making, the carry to term path has flourished with organizations which support the parent(s) continuing their pregnancy.  The good news is that many hospitals have now created perinatal hospice programs for those using their facilities to deliver their babies.  In terms of women's health -- carry to birth has consistently and unequivocally proven to be a healthier medical treatment for women.

Yet individual physicians seem unable to shake the opinion that prematurely ending the baby's life is best.  They often deny patients access to pre-natal treatment due to the concept of "medical futility." These narrow-minded physicians decline to answer questions in layman's terms so that parents understand they have a right to continue the pregnancy.  They manipulate parents by telling them that birth will be incredibly traumatic for their child, often giving them horror stories about babies being ripped to pieces in the labor process.  This particular tactic has been shared in many parents' recollections of speaking to doctors after deciding to continue a pregnancy. Angie Smith's groundbreaking book about continuing a pregnancy after a poor diagnosis, "I Will Carry You" mentions this phenomenon.
As a side note --  many parents who "terminated" a pregnancy after a poor diagnosis are often offended by carry to birth families, feeling that our stories somehow imply that they made their decision due to ignorance or medical pressure.  But they generally aren't witnesses to the after-affects of those manipulated into "terminations" -- stories which are often shared in post-loss, pro-life leaning on-line groups.  These parents also discount the experiences of those of us who did choose to carry to term and who were relentlessly pushed to terminate over our strident refusals. 

Studies have shown that when facing a poor pregnancy diagnosis, parents report being unsupported and rushed by their physicians.  Studies have further shown the decision to terminate will often culminate in an abortion within three days of a diagnosis -- clearly not sufficient time to research all of the options.  Lastly, studies show parents who continue their pregnancy after a poor diagnosis have better mental health outcomes than those who terminate, and some may be surprised to learn that the earlier gestation of the baby, the greater the negative feelings.  So those early detection tests are actually harming women's mental health.
When you allow exceptions for fetal abnormalities, or even for a fatal fetal diagnosis, you are giving your "blessing" to these women to end the lives of their children, and your position directly affects every single child diagnosed in the womb -- including the one whose parents choose not to have an abortion.  You give doctors permission to badger patients into abortion.  You are telling the medical community that these babies are acceptable targets for killing. 

Margaret Sanger, in an interview with Mike Wallace in 1957, famously said:
“I think that the greatest sin of all is bringing children into the world – that have disease from their parents, that have no chance in the world to be human beings practically.”

This hits at the root of the abortion exceptions argument.  Is a baby diagnosed with a lethal birth anomaly somehow less than human? We shout back and forth about a mother's grief, the horror of being forced to carry a baby who will inevitably die, all the while ignoring the fact that neither of these things have any relevance on the rights of the child who is a human being.

When we legislate to allow medical professionals to respond to unborn children as less than human based on disability (or mode of conception), we cannot expect them to suddenly respond as if some unborn babies are human, just because parents choose to continue a pregnancy.
Let me explain:
While I don't view all medical professionals as cold-hearted, I do believe that for many, a poor pregnancy diagnosis is just another day at work.  Termination of pregnancy may be preferable for him/her in terms of liability, time management, and even paperwork.  In essence, it's often to the physician's benefit when a parent ends a preborn baby's life prematurely due to fetal anomaly. 

When a parent chooses to continue their pregnancy after a diagnosis, it can become an inconvenience to the physicians who have no emotional attachment to the unborn child they have diagnosed, and who often don't even view the child as human.  Even worse, for some physicians, continuing care is viewed as a waste of their time and skills.  The more patients a physician has who decide to end their pregnancies, the more accustomed the physician becomes to: 
a) believing his/her recommendation to be the correct recommendation (vs. a personal opinion on care); and b) believing that the patient who continued their pregnancy is the anomaly. 
When even otherwise pro-life individuals state that one person has the right to end the life of another on grounds of disability or imminent death, the door is cracked open to coerced abortion, and dehumanization.  Medical professionals efforts to manipulate women into unasked for abortions is affirmed by the willingness to look the other way for the sake of expediency.
When pro-life individuals promote legislation which includes abortion exceptions, we are directly responsible for the pain of this little family whose story I just shared -- the family who delivered their sweet baby alive just a few weeks ago.
As pro-life persons, we are supposed to be champions for families like this.  Please don't be a part of the reason they are struggling.

BIO:  Sarah Grandfield-Connors is a wife, mother of 4, step-mother of 2,  pro-life blogger for Save The 1 ,  and the founder of limbbodywallcomplex.net, a pro-life, diagnosis specific website which supports parents who continue their pregnancy after receiving the same lethal diagnosis which took her daughter, Beatrix Elizabeth.  She blogs on grief, loss, and pro-life issues pertaining to continuing a pregnancy after a lethal anomaly has been diagnosed, at www.shebringsjoy.com.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

My Son is My Most Precious Treasure, Though Conceived From Step-Father Rape, by Yohanka Reyes

Trials are a way for God’s name to be glorified.  It’s called purpose! My name is Yoi Reyes and my husband Pete and I are the founders of Mary's Pregnancy Resource Center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  It is my prayer that as you read my story and what the Lord has done, you will be encouraged.  The reason why I was called to serve this specific population of women experiencing unplanned pregnancies is because I, like these women, had to face many of the hardships that they are presently facing.  

I was born in Havana, Cuba.  My father was a Captain for the Navy and my mother was an English teacher for the Naval Academy.  However, when I was only 3 years old, my parents divorced.  That was the first wound of many.  My father was my hero and I remember sitting at the front door of my house and crying as I waited for him to come home from work, and when he did, I would cry for him to take his shirt off as a sign that he was going to stay.  He did every time, but then the nightmare would start all over again whenever I woke up, and he wasn't there.   

My mother couldn't deal with the divorce and ended up at a military psychiatric center where she met my step-father who was a Captain for the western district of the Police Force in Havana.  He had also been admitted to this psychiatric center because he was dealing with chronic depression as a result of his own divorce.  Not long after they were both discharged, they married and he moved in with us.  I was about 4 years old. 

Soon after, my step-father began to sexually molest me.  At such a young age, I could not understand what was happening.  I was too young to make much of it and he was smart enough to know how to confuse me, by making me think that he loved me as my father.  He was a father in every other area, so in my mind that was the way it was, although I felt uncomfortable and fearful.   As if that was not enough, around the same time a neighbor and close friend of the family also sexually molested me. 

Years passed by and the abuse continued, so I escaped into a world I created where books were the only thing that mattered.  I would read all kinds of books and study as much as I could.  Year after year, I would receive the highest report card score of my grade, so everyone assumed that I was "fine." I did not show much interest in playing with other kids, but everyone also assumed that I was sociable because I enjoyed talking and spending time with the adults. 

At 9 years old, as my stepfather was abusing me, I got upset and told him that I was going to tell my dad about it and that I didn't like what he was doing to me.  In response, he put his gun to my head and told me that if I ever told anyone, he would kill my family and then kill himself.  From that moment on, I felt responsible for the well-being of my family which placed an impossible burden to carry at my young age.   

My mother, on the other hand, asked me not to testify or rather to lie and tell the judge I didn't remember the abuse that I had received from my neighbor.  She thought it was better to "forgive."  Of course, what message did I get from that?  So I thought, "Why bother telling anyone what my step-father was doing to me? No one cares.” After all, my own mother had just coerced me to forgive the same offense by lying to the judge. 

My teen years arrived and with it, you can guess:  lots of rebelliousness.  I was angry, disrespectful and began to smoke cigarettes.  By then, I fully understood what was being done to me and I didn't know how to deal with it.  I was now 13 years old and so, my step-father decided to take it to the next level.  The abuse went from molestation to rape involving intercourse.  As that continued, I eventually got pregnant.  I had a boyfriend with whom I was having sexual relations as well.  My step-father was not sure who the father of the baby was, and did not want to risk being caught.  So he convinced my mother, and they took me to a clinic to have an abortion.  It worked – no one knew how he’d been raping me.  The abortion protected him, and the rape continued.

I was very confused when they took me for the abortion.  The only thing I remember is a deep anxiety and desire to know whether it was a boy or a girl, and that desire actually never went away. I was put under anesthesia, but I remember being depressed afterwards and having horrible nightmares -- always the same ones where I would fall into a deep dark hole at a very fast speed. 

By the time that I was 15 years old, I got pregnant again. This time, the doctors didn't want to perform another abortion because I was too young and underweight.  When my son was growing inside of me, I was happy and couldn't wait to meet him.  I did have a fear that he would look like my stepfather, but when he was born on November 21, 1990, that all went away, and I was madly in love with him.   

Years passed by and I always wondered who the real father was, always fearful that it could be my step-father.  To this day, I haven’t had a DNA paternity test, although many genetic similarities lead me to believe he is biologically my step-father's.  But it doesn't matter -- I know who his mother is and I love my son with all of my heart! 

The next years were hard; I was practically out of control, spending very little time in my house, partying, drinking, and everything else that comes with it.  It was at the age of 18 when I got involved with a man that was 15 years older than me and at 19, I left the country in a raft with him.  Out of desperation, I left behind everything, including my 4 year old son.  This was just the beginning of another journey full of pain and abuse.  The man was a drug dealer and I was smoking lots of marijuana, but through it all, I always managed to work and help my family in Cuba.   

This 7 year abusive relationship left many physical, emotional and psychological scars. I didn't have anyone in this country and was more fearful of the outside world than of the abuse I was facing.  After all, as far back as I could remember, abuse had always been a part of my life.  I couldn't resist anymore and suicidal thoughts were visiting me very often, so I decided I was going to leave this guy, but I was afraid because he was very dangerous and aggressive. However, I did find help to leave, and met my husband Pete during that process.

Because of our histories, my husband and I decided that we needed help and we pursued counseling.  Two years of counseling and 60 weeks of Life Skills Classes gave us healing and an understanding that things did not have to stay the way they were, and that we can use our tests and turn them into testimonies -- allowing those experiences to be used for God's glory to help others understand that with help, they too can overcome their painful histories.  It is just a matter of being humble and recognizing that we need help.

While receiving counseling, I was working as a Case Manager for a shelter and they acquired a grant to help women experiencing unplanned pregnancies.  They assigned me to that program and I found myself right at home.  However, the more I did, the more I wanted to do for these clients, but could not spread my wings. It was through a time of prayer when I felt this urge.  I couldn't change my past, but I could become in the future something that I longed for many times -- someone who cared.  I made up my mind that I was going to be that someone.   

I spoke to my husband and pastor regarding opening a Crisis Pregnancy Center at our church and they supported me.  My husband worked long hours in a room of our church transforming it into a beautiful center and we began helping the women of our community, but the financial situation was tight.  We were financing the ministry primarily out of our personal savings account.  Several months later, we applied and received a grant from the Florida Pregnancy Support Services Program.  I can share with you testimony after testimony of lives that have been saved and healing that have taken place.  

We now rent a 3/4 acre facility where we counsel and case manage the clients, educate, refer and provide many resources. We have celebrated weddings, baby showers, childbirth and even serve stillborn services.  I can understand the pain of these women.  I can see that there is more than a rebellious young lady, or a lazy woman, or a promiscuous one.  I share with them the trials, but also the victory.   

My husband and I have been married for 14 years now.  I hadn't seen my son for a long 12 years, but then with my husband's help, I was able to bring my son to the United States since I became an American Citizen. We were able to buy our own house several years ago and have work for God and ministry for the last 10 years. I overcame, and have seen that by sharing my story with our clients, it gives them hope and encourages them to keep fighting and to turn their lives into something beautiful.  I also like to share my story because many people are quick to judge another person's life without knowing the root of the problem or the wounds that the person has suffered.  In fact, many times these problems are rooted in their childhood and are responsible for their unhealthy lifestyles. 

I am a Christian and will never be ashamed of the gospel of Christ for it was Jesus who brought light into my world of darkness and all glory goes to Him for every accomplishment.  Every hurting soul who is experiencing an unplanned pregnancy is our responsibility.  Every baby deserves to live and we seek to testify about Jesus through our unconditional services to their mothers.  Because I know the mothers’ pain, I can share the good news of the hope that is in Christ.  Through my life, they can see that no matter what we have gone through in life, we are able to conquer and become something new and beautiful. 

I have been able to mourn the loss of the child that was aborted when I was young and I don't walk in guilt and shame anymore.  Instead, I speak boldly and openly about my life – yes, with pain, but also with the hope that others will see how it is not impossible to get out of the pit in which they find themselves at the present time.

Unfortunately, I was never able to conceive again; my son is my only living child and without him, I would not have had the opportunity to know what being a mother feels like.  I can't imagine my life without him from the time he was born to now at 25 years old.  I can't imagine my life without the nights in the hospital with his asthma attacks, or his hernia surgery or all of the other things we experience as mothers.  No one can imagine the pain when I had to leave him behind not to risk his life in the ocean while coming to the U.S.. I got to experience the joy of picking him up in the airport when brought him here, seeing him give himself to Christ and getting baptized by my husband, taking him to soccer games and youth activities, and helping him get his first job and apartment. 

 Life is not easy and it has not been easy for him either.  He has many things to deal with, as society pushes shame upon children conceived in rape, and he is not the exception.  But nothing will keep his father (my husband) and I from continuing to pray and support him as he travels the painful, but worthy, journey of healing.  My son is not perfect, but he is a hard working young man who was definitely fearfully and wonderfully made by our Lord and Savior.

I had never heard about abortion bans "except in cases of rape" back in Cuba, but as soon as I heard about it here in the U.S., I was angry that someone could think it was best for my son not to be alive because of no fault of his own.  There should be no exceptions because my son is all I would want in a child; no exceptions because he is not the son of a stigma, but the son of a mother who would do anything in this world for him and of an adoptive father who loves him as his own; no exceptions because he is not a piece of garbage, but my most precious treasure; no exceptions because his life matters!
Bio:  Yohanka Reyes is a pro-life blogger for Save The 1. Bilingual, she's also a blogger for Salvar El 1.  She serves as the Executive Director of Mary's Pregnancy Resource Center, is a wife, and mother.  She'll be in Washington, D.C. at the March For Life 2016.  Please come by the Save The 1 booth at the Expo, or say hello when you see her with her pink sign -- MOTHER FROM RAPE I LOVE MY CHILD!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Further Traumatized by Abortion After Rape -- Sheryl's Story, by Rebecca Kiessling

After sharing my conceived in rape story a few years ago at Lake County Right to Life’s annual fundraiser in Indiana, a sweet woman came up to me and through tears, shared her own story of having endured a forced abortion after being raped while in foster care.  We’ve maintained a friendship since then, with Sheryl Williams attending our Save The 1 speaker training at the Right to Life of Michigan legislative office in Lansing, Michigan a year and a half ago.

It was there that Sheryl got to meet RLM President Barb Listing and producer Jim Hanon, who then collaborated with several Save The 1 speakers on 4 TV ads and 5-minute short story videos called their “Compassion Project,”  and now a 30-minute documentary called “Life Uninvited,” to be aired all across Michigan the weekends of Jan. 23-24th, and Jan. 30-31st.   Sheryl’s story is included in both and I know you’ll want to share her important story.

Sheryl and her sister were raped by their own father as young children, and by their grandfather.  When they told their mom and others, they weren’t believed, and the abuse went on for several years.  Finally, at age 13, they were taken to foster care.  However, Sheryl was raped by a teenaged boy while in foster care.  Again, she was afraid to report the rape, saying “I definitely didn’t tell anybody. . . .  Mom didn’t believe me way back here with all of this, then clearly this is gonna sound totally crazy.”

Then Sheryl explains, “I was placed in yet again another foster home, and I started getting sick.”  She says the foster mother asked if she was pregnant, and Sheryl was shocked by the question, not having considered such a possibility.  The young man who raped her was then questioned and he denied everything – even denying having had intercourse with her at all, which completely surprised Sheryl.  But then she thought to herself, “You know what, with or without him, I can do this.”

She shares how she already began to bond with her baby:  “As time went on, I felt it kick, and I could connect, like 'Okay, I get it!'  I was just so excited -- you know, about being a mom.  In my mind, this was something nobody could take.  It’s me, it’s part of me.  I was just excited. . . .”

However, everything changed in an instant when she thought the foster mother was taking her for a checkup:  “The next thing you know, I’m in an abortion.  I don’t even remember whose decision.  I don’t even remember any of that.  I just remember the table and being on that table.  I don’t even remember driving there.  I don’t think I understood that that’s where I was going.”  Sheryl says she felt hopeless, like “I don’t matter.  My voice doesn’t matter.  What I think doesn’t matter.  My feelings don’t matter.”  After the abortion, things really went downhill for her:  “I was already a loner, and I pretty much went on total shutdown.”

Reflecting on how things could have been different for her, Sheryl explains, “I wish back then when they thought they were so-called ‘helping’ me – I wish they would have gotten me counseling.  I wish I would have been able just to say, ‘Hey, here’s what happened,’ and felt like I would have been believed.  There was no security blanket.”

Sheryl wants other young women to know this: “You have choices, and if you don’t give it up for adoption, give it to an aunt or uncle.  Just don’t do the abortion thing – that will haunt you.”

She then explains how different her life is now – that she sings in a church choir, which is where she met her husband.  Her marriage has helped her to see the true character of God.  She says she learned “This is what you really look like Lord.  You don’t hurt people.  You do help.”  Sheryl says her husband represented that, which has brought her healing.

But Sheryl still struggled with forgiving herself for the abortion which was perpetrated upon her.  She knew that God forgives and wants us to forgive, “But then I realized I had to forgive myself, and I hadn’t done that – not by a long shot.  I just wish society realized the long-term effect emotionally and mentally that this has on women, and that abortion should never be an option, even in the case of rape.  To further traumatize the woman the way I’ve been further traumatized -- I just don’t want this to happen to anybody else.”

Sheryl will be attending the March for Life in Washington, D.C. for the first time this year, and we hope you’ll come by and see her at our Save The 1 booth at the Expo, and thank her for sharing her story when you see our pink signs at the March.  Please take the time to watch and share the moving 30-second ad and the 5-minute video of Sheryl's story here.

BIO:  Rebecca Kiessling is an attorney, writer, pro-life speaker and founder and President of Save The 1.
Sunday, January 10, 2016

Petulant or Vigilant? The Battle For No Exceptions – By Jim Sable

Petulant or Vigilant? The Battle For No Exceptions – By Jim Sable
A new year of battling abortion begins, which means another year of fearless pro-life people fervently working to stop abortion has ended.  You could call any year that passes without stopping abortion an unsuccessful year, but there were many successes in 2015, particularly: The Center for Medical Progress investigative videos and related rallies exposing the profiting from the sale of aborted fetal body parts by Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry; pro-life efforts by our friend Abby Johnson and her ministry team at And Then There Were None assisting abortion workers in leaving the industry continued, with many abortionists and workers quitting; certain pro-life laws and related efforts were successful in causing either the outright closure or cessation of abortion services at 53 clinics throughout the USA; and, the continuing work of Pregnancy Resource Centers combined with sidewalk counselors, bolstered by the compassionate and visible international efforts of 40 Days For Life, tirelessly working at abortion’s “ground zero”, quietly saved countless lives.
At Save The 1, we experienced other successes, as our network of individuals representing one of the so-called “hard cases” expanded into the hundreds.  We helped start our affiliate group Save The 1 - Carry To Birth.  We launched our international outreach with the Save The 1 Spanish and Portuguese divisions: Salvar El 1 and Salva O 1.  We witnessed our message spreading and the topic of the rape exception discussed more frequently.  We also observed, and in some cases directly influenced, the introduction and passage of many State abortion regulating laws that did not contain the usual “exceptions”.  We assisted worldwide to keep the rape exception out of important pro-life laws.
But, along with those positive 2015 results, as we at Save The 1 represent and defend the lives of the so-called “hard cases” of the abortion debate, we continue to witness and experience many verbal and written challenges to the right to life of the “exceptions”, from individuals and groups on both sides of the debate.  Each challenge is a slap in the face, and we turn the other cheek while we continue to defend our lives and the lives of those similarly situated.  We have turned the other cheek so often that our heads are spinning.  It is not difficult to understand the disrespect from the abortion supporters, but when we battle with the pro-life community, it is particularly perplexing and exasperating.
A recent example of this occurred as 2015 was winding down and the 2016 Presidential campaign was gaining momentum.  The pro-life community reacted in unison to denounce a statement made by self-proclaimed pro-life Presidential candidate Jeb Bush.  Mr. Bush answered a question about whether he would have ended the life of the infant Hitler.  Jeb Bush answered, “Hell yeah I would!”.  One well known and influential pro-life blogger railed against Bush in a Facebook post in November, chiding Bush by unequivocally stating that the pro-life community cannot abandon “Principles” and make “Pragmatic Compromises”.  Bush’s pragmatic compromise about Hitler is not pro-life.  “Once we compromise the principle, we can’t with a straight face appeal to it anymore,” the blogger wrote.  (This is a blogger who had previously advocated for laws containing exceptions, defending compromise.)
Save The 1 was encouraged by the post that cited “principles” written by someone who has shown a willingness to compromise on pro-life laws.  We reached out to see if the blogger’s idea of principles still included an acceptance of the exceptions.  Surely, one who would not condone killing the infant/preborn Hitler would also now be standing by principle and rejecting exceptions, or so we hoped, and communicated that hope in our response to the post.  Unfortunately, our hopes were unfounded.  Instead of a reassuring affirmation of our right to life, we were told that this blogger was “. . . weary of the fallacy of the 1% argument”, (whatever that means).  We were also called “petulant” (3 times) for our no exceptions position and for expressing a challenge to the compromising ideology.  So, Save The 1 is apparently petulant for defending all life, but a blogger who responds to a challenge, not by engaging in respectful debate and Q & A on the points, but instead by name calling and misstating another’s views, is somehow virtuous.  We, evidently, are not allowed to defend our position, are not allowed to show any passion about our cause lest we be labeled as petulant.  Are we to understand this to mean: “Spare the baby Hitler – sacrifice the baby from rape”?
The blogger’s single defense is to claim that the blog has never stated that the rape exception is an acceptable compromise.  But, how do you separate an approval of exceptions in law from an approval of exceptions in general?  Is it logical to state that you are against the rape exception or that you don’t consider the rape exception an acceptable compromise and then promote and condone the exceptions in law?  Can you hold yourself out as “principled” when you accept any compromise?
The promotion of exceptions is troubling enough.  But there is also a concurrent promotion of and symbiotic relationship with compromising politicians.  The pro-life community has allowed politicians to define what it means to be pro-life.  Don’t the elected officials work for us?  This has been much more of a problem at the Federal level than the State level.  Save The 1 has observed much more success among the states in passing principled laws without exceptions.
This blogger gave us the erroneous example of rejecting hostage releases one at a time until hostage holders agree to release 100% as being analogous to a “no exceptions” requirement for a pro-life law.  This hostage scenario is not analogous to a no exceptions legal philosophy because a no exceptions philosophy would accept ALL hostages, one at a time or all at once, depending on the requirements of the hostage takers (abortion regulations).  A law with exceptions actually refuses some hostages (babies’ lives).  Here’s how: The hostage negotiating team (pro-life community) takes (protects) every life the hostage holders (abortion regulations) are willing to spare, (every life a law is designed to protect), and then, the negotiating team sends those now saved hostages who are rape conceived BACK to the hostage holders, (removes the legal protection for some by adding a rape exception to the law).  To put it simply, (and, seemingly, obviously), a law with exceptions excludes some lives, a no exceptions law does not.
We were accused of being responsible, at least partly, for the continued slaughter of 99% of babies because we defend the last  1%.  We were told, (and we have heard this many times), we are standing in the way of laws that would save 99% of babies tomorrow because we will not agree to the exceptions.  What we do object to is any group or individual who touts a hypothetical law, with imaginary results, who then claims a superior moral authority over others.  Our proposal could be considered hypothetical, but we have the historical record of Roe v. Wade to show that the rape exception is unworkable in practice.  It is impossible to know how many lives would be saved by an abortion ban with a rape exception, but it is certainly not the outrageous 99% claimed by this blogger.  A rape exception creates a huge, unenforceable loophole, and also exposes the real possibility of additional exceptions, which will be advanced and defended as just as valid, merely a court decision away from implementation, as the rape exception is given the force of law by OUR side.  The perpetually-promoted rape exception keeps abortion legal forever.
This leads to a broader issue and other questions.  We at Save The 1 are told that laws with exceptions need to be passed because they contribute to the “greater good” of ending abortion.  Who is the caretaker of the “greater good”?  Who gets to decide how we get there, when we will know we are there, and how long it should take to get there?  As compromising organizations and individuals advance an exceptions strategy that has almost no chance of ever ending legalized abortion, how is that promoting the greater good?  If the rape exception keeps abortion legal forever, allowing for a renewed expansion of abortion rights after a ban with exceptions somehow is passed, how is the long term greater good achieved?
There have been promises for decades that the exceptions strategy will change and the laws passed with exceptions will be fixed.  Neither has happened.  Case in point: the current Planned Parenthood defunding bill passed by the House and Senate has a rape exception.  So, we are handing the enforcement procedure of the rape exception to an organization that has already demonstrated that they do not comply with rape reporting requirements.  Is this an effective strategy?  Let’s make a commitment to change this strategy.  Now.  If not now, when?
From our standpoint, the blogger broke at least 2 tenets of debate, (1) - attacking us personally and, (2) - begging the question by assuming something as fact without any defending evidence.  These are rules that this blogger claims to uphold (but doesn’t) and demands that others do as well.  Here is another example of inconsistency we see often from some compromising pro-life individuals, from those in leadership positions on down.  They use a recommended line of reasoning when discussing abortion with those who are “personally pro-life” but supportive of laws allowing the “choice” of abortion by pointing out that the other person, despite his or her personal disapproval of abortion, is actually supporting abortion, the horrible act of killing babies that they claim to abhor, by supporting the legality of killing babies.  The “personal pro-lifers” are being inconsistent.  In other words, if you support the law, you support the act, despite what you claim are your own personal views.  How is accepting the exceptions in law any different?  It is puzzling that someone who is pro-life and compromises on the exceptions cannot seem to grasp that they are also displaying the same inconsistency.  Again, if you accept the law, you accept the act.

So what is it, actually, that is so distressing about our message to the people who accept exceptions in law?  Are they sincere and accurate when they say we are an impediment to pro-life success?  In their eyes we are a problem to deal with, a nuisance, a thorn in their side.  Or are they concealing something they do not want to admit?  Are we actually a challenge to their conscience?  Has the business of being pro-life clouded the purity of the message and distracted some away from fighting for the principle of “Every Life Matters”?  What percentage would we have to be for the lives of the “hard cases” to matter enough to be defended by everyone at every opportunity and to make legal exceptions to pro-life laws a thing of the past?  Apparently 1% is not enough. 

BIO: Jim Sable is a husband, father of three, and a national pro-life speaker, conceived in rape, and blogger for Save The 1, from the Chicago area. He serves on the Board of Save The 1, as well as Hope After Rape Conception.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Forced to Devise a Parenting Plan With My Rapist, by Ashley Beal

During Christmas break of my Sophomore year, at age 16, I stayed with my 24 year old 2nd cousin.  One night, she had a 19 year old guy come over who shed met in a chat room.  Everyone was drinking, and I believe that our drinks must have been drugged.  I briefly "came to" in the basement while the guy was raping me and then must have passed out again.  When I awoke, I was alone.  I ran upstairs to get my cousin, but the guy was still there and I was frozen.  Once I had the opportunity to speak with my cousin, I asked her what had happened, but she didnt remember anything either.

The upcoming weeks after being raped were quite disastrous.  I had vowed to myself not to tell anyone.  I felt like trash.  I felt disgusting.  I felt like I deserved it, and that nobody would believe me anyway. 

A couple of weeks later, after realizing that I had missed my period, I decided to take a pregnancy test.  The pregnancy test was immediately positive.  I was in disbelief.  I felt ashamed and sick, as my childs father was a rapist.  I wasn't sexually active, so I knew that was the situation I was facing that I was pregnant from rape

Abortion never crossed my mind.  I had a Christian upbringing and I was always taught that children are a blessing, so even though I was facing this pregnancy by rape, I actually became excited about having a baby.  However, when I told my cousin I was pregnant, she immediately told me that I need to get an abortion. 

My parents were upset of course.  Id never seen my father cry until I told him Id been raped and that I was pregnant.  He cried like a baby, then went through an angry period.  He took me to the police station, but they just said it was too late for a rape kit and they werent going to do anything since I was 16 and they said they rarely get convictions under such circumstances.

Over the course of my pregnancy, especially during the summer of 2004 leading up to the birth of my son, I had people call and ask me if I was giving my son up for adoption.  My mom would answer the phone and respond with Baby not for sale.  My parents and I never discussed adoption -- it was just assumed that I would keep my son.

After a lengthy labor with no pain medication, I gave birth to my son Monday, September 27th at 2:57 pm.  The process of the birth was both joyful and scary at the same time.  My sister held one hand and my mom the other as I gave birth to my son.  I instantly felt like he was a part of me, he was beautiful and I loved him.

While in the hospital, I called my grandma and grandpa and I remember just crying and my grandma asking why I was crying.  I told her that I felt like I had let them down, still blaming myself for being raped, giving birth as a teen mom out of a rape.  She reassured me, saying, Itll be okay dear.  You dont need to cry.

When I came home from the hospital, life sort of proceeded as normal -- as normal as it could proceed, being a teenage mom.  It wasn't until after my son was born that I began to dwell on the rape. The first few weeks of being a mom were great, but once I went back to school, it got a lot more challenging.  I had to work full-time, be a mom full time, and go to school part-time.                       

When I went back to school and knew that I had to find daycare for my son, I applied for daycare assistance, as well as food stamps and WIC through the county.  In January, 2005, because I was actively getting assistance and I was now over the age of 18, I was forced by the state of Wisconsin to pursue child support.  I was absolutely terrified!  I was told that he had just as much right to my son as any other single father  because our case was he said/she said and they were not going to treat our case as a rape case.  I begged and pleaded to not have State aid, but they said even if I chose to discontinue the State aid that he still had rights.

I decided to do what I thought was right, and was going to ultimately protect my son in the end and followed all court documentation to a T.  I was so scared and worried that if I had one small mess up, then the rapist would swoop in and get full rights to my son.  I also often feared that he would try to kidnap him as well, so I watched my son like a hawk and made absolutely sure that everyone at daycare knew who could pick up my son and only people on that list could pick him up.

In early 2007, the courts ultimately forced me to start building a relationship with my son’s biological father.  Under court order, I had to meet the man who raped me in Portage, WI at the Columbia County Health and Human Services building for court supervised mediation where they forced me to devise a parenting plan with my rapist, as he was granted joint custody by the state of Wisconsin.  The stated goal was to build up to 50/50 time.  The mediator agreed with my pleas that we start off slowly by having an initial meeting between the parents, then gradually developing a relationship between my son and my rapist.  At the initial meeting, I was horrified as we had to exchange phone numbers and emails.  

Over the next few weeks, the rapist and I would chat by Yahoo messenger here and there, along with some phone calls, as I was under court order to do.  I was so scared. To this day, I still cannot believe that the Court of Law didn't protect me from him.  I feel like the justice system failed me and that they wouldnt even consider that I was raped.  There was absolutely no hearing before the Court on this issue.  It just wasnt even allowed.

I had to meet me rapist face to face, and parenting visits began.  After about 10 of these visits, something changed in my life which caused the rapist to back down I got engaged.  Im not sure exactly what happened, but he just stopped all visits after I told him at our last mediation in March, 2006 that I was engaged.  Maybe he realized that he wouldnt be able to manipulate or control me because there was now another man involved.  Maybe he had just been curious to meet his biological son.  Maybe his parents had been the ones pushing for the visits.  I dont know, but I was just relieved it stopped!

However, the fact remains that I was failed by the court system.  I shouldn't have had to tell him I was engaged.  I should have been protected by the court of law.  I was raped!  I feel like they protected the rapist better than they protected me.  10 years later, it still makes me literally sick, and I fill with panic thinking that I was forced to interact with him.  I would cry and be on nerves end for days before I would have to see him, or know that I would have to talk to him.  

Because of the rape, the trauma of having to deal with my sons biological father, and fighting so hard and ferociously to protect my son, I now suffer from PTSD.  I deal with my trauma on a daily basis.  It goes deeper than just being raped.  The interaction I was forced to have with the rapist, feeling like I had to get married young to protect my son -- it didn't just affect me, it affected my son as well. With the rapists selfish actions, it turned my life upside down.  Thankfully, my husband has been a good father to my son, and my son has no knowledge or memory of the visits with the man who raped me.

Im sharing my story now because I was inspired by a recent story out of St. Louis of another woman who became pregnant by rape.  First of all, I want people to know that a child conceived in rape is a blessing and is worthy of love.  Secondly, I want to bring awareness to the plight of women who are raped and choose to parent their child.  The law needs to be changed in Wisconsin.  No woman should be put in a position that if she chooses to keep her child, she would have to co-parent with her rapist.  I want to be available to testify before legislatures to make sure this never happens to another woman again.

BIO:  Ashley Beal is a mother and Independent Living Specialist/Youth Services, residing in the Madison, Wisconsin area, and a pro-life speaker and blogger for Save The 1.   She is Save The 1's Director for the Rape Survivor Child Custody Act project.

My Daughter Is Truly the Rainbow After The Storm, by Shalyn McGuin

I was 19 and living on my own, working as a nanny.  An ex-boyfriend of mine who I was still friends with was going to come over to visit, as I had just recently moved into my new apartment.  He came in and we visited, and before long he was kissing me and trying to initiate intercourse.  I said "NO!" numerous times, and then my "freeze" reaction kicked in. 

For four years of my childhood, I was sexually assaulted almost daily by a family member.  I told a few different people, but nobody believed me.  I realized quickly that it wasn't going to end, so I learned to freeze because it stopped quicker if I pretended it wasn't happening.

So back to the night my ex-boyfriend raped me -- I froze, and he took advantage of me.  After he left, I cried on my bathroom floor for hours, wishing I had put up more of a physical fight.  I didn't report it, because I knew it would be like the abuse of my past -- my word against his.

A few weeks later, I realized that I had been having period cramps for a couple of weeks, where normally I would only get them for a day or two before my period.  That's when I thought I might be pregnant.  I ran to Shoppers Drug Mart and got a test.  When it said "yes," I went back and got another.  Of course it said the same thing. 

I was fairly close to my boss at the time, so I told her about my pregnancy a week or so later.  She told me she didn't want her kids to see me "in that condition," so if I wanted to keep my job I had to abort -- it was my child or hers.

I went to the Pregnancy Resource Centre, and asked the pregnancy counselor if she thought I should get an abortion.  She wasn't allowed to give me a direct answer, but she assured me that I was capable of raising my baby, and pointed me in the direction of helpful programs around the city.  When she estimated the baby's due date, I knew it was a sign because she was due on my birthday!

I kept her, lost my job, got a new one before I started to show,  When I gave birth to my daughter, I felt scared because because she was so small and fragile, but I was so in love, and the emotion only grew from there!

During my pregnancy, I also met the love of my life who is now her Daddy.  The only father she has ever known  -- he is the greatest father.  He plans to adopt her once we marry.

My daughter's biological father knows about her, but has chosen not to have any relationship with her, which is best for her and of course, a huge relief for me.

My little girl is now three years old and she is the most beautiful girl in the world!  We are (age appropriately) honest with her.  She knows that her Daddy didn't make her, but he chose her. 

She is not a "rape baby."  She is MY baby.  She is the baby of a rape victim, and she is worthy of life.  Children like her should not be punished for the crimes of their fathers. 

My daughter is truly the rainbow after the storm.

BIO:  Shalyn McGuin is a Stay at Home mom, a pro-life blogger for Save The 1, and resides in Ontario,  Canada.  She hopes to make a positive difference for babies conceived through rape and their mothers.