Friday, May 27, 2016

She Brings Joy

In 2010 we chose not to have an abortion, after learning our unborn child had a fatal fetal anomaly called Limb Body Wall Complex: Here is our story.


There are so many important things I would like to share about our story. The journey we went through to have our baby is just as important as what happened after she was born.
I knew I was pregnant almost immediately. We only took a test to confirm it. I saw my doctor who pronounced me a mom-to-be, and sent me home with a gift bag full of goodies for new moms. We were ecstatic.
I brought my 16 year old step-daughter with me to the doctor for my second appointment. I was hoping she would get to see her new baby sibling on an ultrasound screen. I knew I would be getting an ultrasound, because I was spotting slightly, and the doctor had mentioned casually that we would be taking a look to make sure everything was ok.
I was excited because I had already had one ultrasound at 6 weeks. I was looking forward to having photos to show my baby of his/her very first weeks in my womb. I didn't know then that these photos would be so very special to me, but for a different reason.
In the quiet ultrasound room, as we waited for the tech to come in, my daughter and I talked about the baby. What a baby would be like in our house- all of our children were older- 18, 17, 16, & 6. My husband and I have a “yours, mine, and ours” household. Everyone got along really well -- a baby would be such a welcome addition to our little family! From the day I realized I was pregnant I knew this baby would be a girl. I did not have a biological daughter, and my step-daughter was old enough now that she would be like a little mother for this baby (she thought the baby was a girl too). We had already chosen a name -- it was she and I who wanted to call her Beatrix.
The ultrasound started with my daughter having a perfect view of the screen. I immediately knew something was wrong. The tech was much too quiet, and after the first few seconds she almost seemed to be trying to sit between my daughter and the screen -- which was also turned completely away from me. I asked if the baby's heart was beating -- it was, and I didn't worry too much after that. I was healthy and strong. My husband was healthy and strong.
After a short time back in the waiting room, the doctor called me into her office (alone), and explained that I was most likely going to miscarry very soon. The baby seemed to be enclosed, almost in a sac of fluid. All of his/her visible organs were swollen with fluid. His/her heart was beating very rapidly but very weakly. It was only a matter of time. This was a very sick baby- and this was only at 9 weeks. The doctor thought I had been infected with some type of virus (most likely Rubella). She took a lot of blood and told me she would call with the results. She gave me instructions regarding what to do when I began to miscarry. I met my daughter in the waiting room and we walked out together.



This was the beginning of an almost endless number of ultrasounds and Drs. appointments. There was no miscarriage. There was no virus. At 12 weeks, the swelling was completely gone, but there was a large amount of fluid in the baby's nuchal fold. The technician also thought something may be wrong with the baby's legs, but the doctor didn't agree.... The diagnosis was a genetic disorder, most likely Down Syndrome.
After that appointment, my husband and I sat in the car and contemplated life with a child with Down Syndrome. We agreed -- no matter what, we would carry this baby for as long as she would stay. No matter what.
At 16 weeks we went for an early fetal anatomy scan. The thickened nuchal fold had turned into a cystic hygroma. It was also joined by a large omphalocele (abdominal wall defect located at the base of the umbilical cord) containing the baby's liver and intestines. With both problems together and my age (35 at the time), the chances for a genetic defect was almost 90%, and the genetic defect would most likely not be Down Syndrome. This was the first time we heard the term "incompatible with life".
We had an appointment for an amnio that day. Our doctor had made it clear that even if we weren't going to terminate, it would help the baby in terms of treatment after birth if we knew exactly what was wrong with him/her. After the amnio we spoke to a genetic counselor. It was horrible. She referred to my baby -- the baby we had just watched moving on an ultrasound screen -- as "the products of conception". The baby was diagnosed with Trisomy 13 based on the results of the ultrasound. We were told the baby would almost likely be miscarried, and if we did manage to carry to term, he/she would go straight from the hospital to an institution.
Three days later, we got the results of the amnio- no genetic defects. And I was going to have my baby girl- Beatrix.
I began to have hope.
Beatrix kept growing -- astounding the doctors who had insisted she would miscarry. Every appointment became an emotional struggle for us. The doctors allowed us no joy -- no hope in watching the magic of our daughter moving in the womb. Even though her prognosis was so poor we would have appreciated being allowed to enjoy her while she was living.
At 20 weeks, we were transferred to a specialist. He would be seeing to my care until I delivered- if I delivered.
He was fantastic! Unfortunately for us, he also detected new fetal anomalies. In addition to her omphalocele and cystic hygroma, he detected dolicocephaly (an abnormally shaped head), and a foot deformity. He told me that our local hospital would not be equipped to care for Beatrix, should she make it to term. He suggested a world renowned Children's Hospital in our state.
He and the doctors there would co-manage my care as the hospital was over an hour away from my home. The hospital would do an evaluation at about 26 weeks (ultrasound and MRI), but other than that he would be seeing me almost to the end. At 34 weeks my care would be transferred totally to the hospital.
At our 26 week ultrasound our world turned upside down. The list of things "wrong" with our baby grew significantly. Almost every part of her poor little body was malformed. In addition to all of the things the other doctors had found, the MRI showed a sacral agenesis (a spinal deformity which causes paralysis), kyphoscoliosis, bilateral clubfeet, and lungs which had herniated into her abdomen. She also had virtually no umbilical cord, which meant absolutely no vaginal delivery -- she could get stuck in the birth canal. This went from being a "fetal anomaly" issue to a "health of the mother" issue rather quickly.  I knew before they gave us the diagnosis what it was. I had read about this awful thing- Limb Body Wall Complex. It was confirmed, and we were sent home to plan a funeral.
I continued with care. We asked them to at least try -- we knew it was considered generally lethal, but we wanted to try. I found medical journal articles on survivors, and were laughed at (one doctor had the temerity to say, "you are a tenacious one, aren't you?" We asked for prenatal care which would give her a better chance of making it to term, such as a medical directive for bed rest. We were denied. We asked for prenatal treatments which may increase her chances for survival, such as steroid shots (for lung development) if I went into labor early, we were denied.
We finally found a neonatologist who was willing to treat our daughter, should Beatrix be treatable. Because her lethal diagnosis came from the physical aspects of her disorder, we asked for her to be assessed based on what actually presented itself at birth. With LBWC, the size of the omphalocele is the primary reason it is lethal. It leaves no room for the baby’s lungs to grow. Her brain, heart and circulatory system were perfectly normal. We could see her perfect face in the ultrasounds... we saw her smile in a 3D one.... We wanted them to save our baby. We could not give up hope that she was going to be the exception to the rule.
At 34 weeks, on the evening of December 12, 2010 I went into labor. Beatrix was born via classical c-section at 2:03 a.m. on December 13, 2010. She was not breathing when she was born. She was resuscitated and placed on a ventilator. She still could not breathe. After 20 min. the doctors came to tell us she was not going to make it. I was still being stitched up so my husband went to be with her. She wrapped her tiny hand around one of his fingers. He brought her to me, and she died peacefully in my arms at around 3:50 a.m. She never cried. She never opened her eyes. She just lay sweet and still in my arms before she continued on to her journey home.
The doctors had prepared me for a monster. I could not visualize all of her deformities in my mind during the pregnancy. When I finally got to see her, all I saw was a perfect little baby. My baby Bea. She had the most beautiful little rosebud lips. The longest eyelashes. Her tiny hands and feet were perfectly formed. She had long slender legs and a tiny hiney like my other baby's had. I opened the swaddling blankets to look at her body. To see how awful it really was. I was gratified to see it was almost the same as any other baby. Her body was not monstrous and deformed. It looked like a baby's body with two differences. Obviously, she had an omphalocele, and her legs were positioned slightly to the left of her spine, instead of straight up and down. But even with those outward issues- she looked like a normal baby girl.



I thought I would be so frightened. How could anyone be frightened of such a sweet little baby girl?
I thought I wouldn't be able to let her go. But I was the one to ask them to come and get her when the time was right. 
I thought that this would break me in two, and I wouldn't be the same person -- it has, and I'm not.
There are not many Limb Body Wall Complex babies carried to term. Most of them are aborted, because this disorder also carries the small possibility of harm to the mother if the baby has a short umbilical cord, which these babies often do.
I have loved Beatrix since the day I was born, it seems like. I was made for loving my beautiful baby girl. My arms were made to hold her until she breathed her last. My lips to cover her face with kisses. I wonder if she knew I was the one who had carried her all that time, safe in her quiet place? I would like to think she did -- that when I kissed her and whispered in her ear, so many times, that I loved her, she recognized my voice, and felt loved.
There is nothing I could ever regret in choosing to carry her. In fact, I thank God I didn't miscarry like they said I would. I cannot contemplate not knowing her here in this world any more than I can contemplate not knowing any of my other children.
I am so grateful I was able to hold her- even if only for a short time.
There are so many things I treasure from that early morning when she was born. I treasure the way the world seemed to disappear -- there was no one but the three of us. I treasure the feeling of absolute peace which permeated everything around us. I treasure my memory of the morning -- I can't tell you what the nurses looked like, but I remember exactly what my daughter smelled like and how the weight of her in my arms felt. I remember the looks which passed between my husband and I, each of us saying goodbye in our own ways
How deep and quiet was the love I felt for this tiny little baby.
I was so frightened before she came- but now I realized it wasn't her I had been afraid of, but love. I was afraid to love her. To love her and have to give her up. I know now that in allowing her to grow and live -- even if it was only inside of my womb -- she gave me such a gift, and it will hold me over when I'm feeling sad or missing her. All the love I was afraid of feeling has overflowed in me and touches everything I do.
I entitled this story "She Brings Joy" for a reason. As I said in the beginning, my step-daughter and I had chosen the name Beatrix for her. What I did not mention was that we had actually chosen the name for a future baby girl before Beatrix was even conceived. It was #1 on our "list of names we would call a new baby if we ever had one". Beatrix (the name) has been almost like a prayer at times, and like a taunt at others. Beatrix literally means (in Latin) "she brings joy". It would seem ironic to anyone who didn't understand how much I love this sweet baby girl. People could ask how this situation brought me joy? During my pregnancy, I wondered, as most bereaved people do, what I had done to deserve this. How could I feel joyous when I felt to sad? It must have been part of God’s plan that I would find joy in the midst of my sorrow.
I could never explain to anyone who hasn't gone through the same situation how easy it is to find joy in what Beatrix brought to me. Her middle name, Elizabeth, means "my oath to God". How easily I have kept this oath, that I find joy in Beatrix's life. Every last second was joy: every movement, every heartbeat, the way my heart leapt the first time I held her. How could I not find joy in loving my little baby girl?
Other people may see me and think of sorrow. I can end with this affirmation: Of all of the varied emotions I feel at having carried Beatrix to term knowing she had a lethal anomaly, the greatest has been the joy I feel at having carried her for as long as I did. She did bring me joy. Every day when I remember the way she felt when I held her, I will remember that joy. With every passing year, I will remember that joy. And in the end, when I am ending my time here on this earth -- I will leave with joy, knowing that I am going home, where she is waiting for me.


BIO:  Sarah Grandfield-Connors is a wife, mother of 4, step-mother of 2,  pro-life blogger for Save The 1 , and leader of the Save The 1 -- Carry to Birth group on Facebook, the purpose of which is to unite these parents to make a difference by sharing their stories, and through activism.


She's also 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.
Monday, May 16, 2016

He Killed My Family in the Safest Place, Just Like Abortionists Do, by Dyanne Gonzales

It's been nearly 5 years since my older brother Lloyd, my sister-in-law Dixie, and my 22 year old nephew, Steven, were brutally murdered in their home in El Rancho, New Mexico, at night, on Father's Day 2011.  Lloyd and Dixie had been married since they were teenagers, with two grown daughters who are married with their own families, and then Steven, who was adopted by Lloyd and Dixie as an infant.  He'd been placed in their home under foster care as a "shaken baby," so he had special needs his entire life.  In fact, the doctors had told them that Steven would never walk or talk, but my brother and sister adopted Steven knowing he would be dependent upon them his entire life.  That's the kind of loving people they were.  Steven learned to walk, though slowly with a limp because his right side had limited mobility, and he even graduated from high school.  But he learned to ride his 4-wheeler with great precision, despite his disabilities.

They were extremely active and well-respected in their community, with a reputation for their generosity.  Lloyd was a custom tile setter, having been a craftsman his whole life.  Much of his custom work was done in Sante Fe on million dollar homes.  He loved to fish and they were very much an outdoorsmen-type family.  Dixie volunteered at a nursing home, and was a relentless advocate for their son Steven.  Both Lloyd and Dixie were extremely organized -- something we shared in common.

The night they were killed, my brother must have heard an intruder, got up without dressing so he could see what was happening, stepped outside, and was attacked and killed with a pickaxe.  He had defensive wounds on the back of his arms, having tried to protect himself.  It's extremely difficult for me to even visualize the horror he endured.

The murderer then entered their home through the back door which was left open when my brother went out, then proceeded to go into the master bedroom where my sister-in-law was still sleeping.  He killed her with the same pickaxe directly to the head.  She was found with her head still laying on her pillow.

We assume that my nephew must have heard something. The murderer attacked and killed Steven with the same weapon in the kitchen as Steven must have been making his way to his parents' bedroom.

I remember answering the phone on Father's Day to the news that Dixie, Lloyd and Steven had been killed, and my first thoughts came out of my mouth, "Was it a car accident?"  But instead I was told this horrifying story of how they were killed.  At the time, we didn't know who the perpetrator was.  The only way I could cope with this tragedy and process it was to forgive the person or persons who had killed them.

Through this forgiveness, I felt peace and I felt like God showed me how this violation -- being killed in what should be the safety of your home, in the warmth and comfort of your bed, resting peacefully in the middle of the night -- is just like the violation of unborn children being violently killed in the warmth and comfort of the womb, where they should be the most secure, and protected.

As in all other homicide cases, the police were called and the investigation began.  Sadly, when children are aborted, the police won't take such a call and wouldn't even consider investigating the untimely death.

Most people don't think about justice until something happens to them or their loved ones, and most pro-life people, even Christians, don't get involved in the pro-life movement until something happens to them or they witness something which compels them.  People's default setting is to not get involved.  I was one of those, and I had to change my own default setting.

The only girl of 10 children, I grew up in Church.  In fact, I was a preacher's kid, but I don't ever recall the topic of abortion coming up.  When I was 16, still quite naive, I got pregnant out of a relationship with a 23 year old man,  Abortion was never raised by anyone -- just not even something that would have popped in any of our minds.  You get pregnant and you take responsibility.  I married the 23 year old one month after I turned 17 -- 5 months before my son was born.

In the three years I was married to him, I was abused in every sense of the word.  Even though he repeatedly raped me, I've never looked at my son and saw him as a horrible reminder of my abuser.  Three years later, I learned that he'd never divorced his first wife, so I filed for an annulment.  I was awarded full custody, and the abuser shirked all responsibility, though he would periodically threaten to steal my son and hide away in the deepest parts of Mexico.  Raising my son on my own without any child support or governmental assistance made me stronger and built my character, and I have absolutely no regrets giving birth to my son.  If I could do it, then anyone can.

Even though I had my own pro-life testimony without realizing it, I wasn't aware enough of the topic of abortion to be involved, until my own family's tragedy and the connection God showed me to the plight of aborted babies.  Ever since then, I activated my default setting to pro-life involvement, and have not been silent.  There's no abortion clinic in my small town, but I've spoken in my church, I've protested elsewhere outside of abortion clinics, I've gone to the state Capitol for activism, I've been the editor on numerous pro-life Facebook pages, including Save The 1, and I've marched at the March For Life in Washington, D.C. with my Save The 1 peers.  I may not have become pregnant by rape, but I know what it's like to have been raped by my child's biological father, and I relate to them on a deep level.

Even though I got involved in the pro-life movement five years ago, I was one of those people who said, "except in cases of rape."  I bought into the rhetoric without really thinking about it because that's what I was hearing from others.  At some point, I was introduced to Rebecca Kiessling's story, began following her on Facebook, and realized how wrong I was to believe that a child conceived in rape was any less valuable than the way I might have been conceived.  And then I went to hear her speak, we spent time together, and began to discuss the no compromise strategy.  Again, I could not believe I had been so quick to discriminate and devalue a life conceived in rape by buying into the notion that their lives were politically expendable.

On February 13, 2015, there was a break in my family's "cold case," and an arrest was made.  He was 16 years old at the time he murdered my family -- someone known to the family, but not related.  Nicholas Ortiz killed for money, just like an abortionist does.  With two others, he was planning to rob the family while sleeping.  The only thing that changed for me once the arrest was made, was that I now had a name to place to my forgiveness of this person.

Tomorrow morning, May 17, 2016, the murder trial begins, and I know I'll have to process the forgiveness much more specifically as I hear details of the gruesome crimes.  I know this will be a difficult trial for me and my family members as we sit in the courtroom throughout the entire proceedings, and I do ask for prayers over the next two weeks.  Pray for all of the families involved, and pray for justice to be served.  Forgiveness is a choice.  I still choose to forgive so that I do not become bitter, resentful and full of hate.  I choose forgiveness for myself.  That does not mean that I do not want justice to be served to the fullest extent of the law.  I want the perpetrator convicted and held accountable.  But I do forgive.

Some of my family members may not understand how I can choose to forgive, just like most of our
society.  This reminds me of people's reaction when I was at the March For Life with my friends from Save The 1.  Toward the end of the march to the Supreme Court, we stood with our signs -- some of them read, "Conceived in Rape, I Love My Life," or "Mother From Rape, I Love My Child," and also "Post-Abortive From Rape, I Miss My Child."  As my husband took photos of our group, I was observing the reaction of those marching -- many of whom were teenagers, but many of the adults had the same look on their faces.  For me, it was really profound because they had been hyped up from the March, chanting pro-life slogans, but when they saw us, their faces were sobered, and I know that for some of them, this was eye-opening.  They now had faces to the exceptions, and witnessed something they'd never seen or heard before.

We are called to forgive -- no exceptions, and we are called to love and to protect -- no exceptions, just as God forgives us and loves us without exception, and without compromise.  The last 5 years of my life have been by far my most difficult. But let me tell you this -- God has also been the most faithful to me in those 5 years!

UPDATE: Today is my brother's birthday and yesterday, December 9, 2016, we received a gift -- Nicholas Ortiz was convicted of murdering all three of my family members. He will serve a minimum of 99 years in prison. This was the second murder trial. The first was in June, but the jury was hung 8-4 in favor of a murder conviction. The relief which has been lifted is beyond words. Justice has been served and the world is a safer place with Nicholas Ortiz behind bars.


BIO:  Dyanne Gonzales is a wife, mother, and Editor for many pro-life Facebook pages, including A Voice For Unborn Babies, Salvar El 1, and for Save The 1.  She's also a blogger for Save The 1, as well as a Board Member.

Here's the audio of Dyanne sharing this testimonial with a cab driver after the March For Life 2014.



Thursday, May 12, 2016

The Pro-Life Debate -- Defending Innocent Children, or Congressmen? by Rebecca Kiessling

Are some candidates “more pro-life” than others?  Yes!  Is it important to know which candidates and which organizations are willing to compromise their pro-life values? Yes, because we’re talking about lethal prejudice.

This is not a political game for me.  I literally owe my birth to the law being there to protect me.  My heroes are pro-life legislators in Michigan who recognized that mine was a life worth saving, even in cases of rape – 100% pro-life, with no exceptions and no compromise.  They are my heroes!  My birthmother did not choose life for me.  She chose abortion.  I was nearly aborted at two illegal abortionists  -- my life-changing near-death experience.   She only backed out because of the “back alley” conditions and because it was illegal.  If your mother chose life for you – how nice for you, but mine didn’t.   Some of us are in need of heroes – those who willing to protect us without exception, without compromise.

I’m from Michigan where we’ve never had a rape exception in a single law.  It’s not because Michigan is a red state. We’re a purple state in fact.  It’s because Right to Life of Michigan is a no exceptions, no compromise organization and they made the determination in the early 70’s that they would never forsake the child conceived in rape.  So what does that mean exactly?  It means that a candidate does not get their PAC (political action committee) endorsement if he or she makes a rape exception, and they don’t put their stamp of approval on rape exception legislation.  As a result, we’ve passed some of the best laws in the nation  – and they’re clean laws, with no exceptions.  We even overrode the Governor’s veto a couple of years ago with a state-wide petition drive, then a majority vote of the House and Senate.  Again, this is because of the stellar pro-life leadership here in Michigan.

For many years, Right to Life of Michigan (RLM) was the only affiliate of National Right to Life Conference (NRLC) who refused to compromise on the rape exception.  In the early 1970’s, there was a schism within the pro-life movement over whether to forsake the child conceived in rape.  Nellie Gray, founder of the March for Life (MFL), used to go and on about it.  She had their statement of principles read each year at the March, which outlined the MFL no compromise stance when she was in leadership.  Judie Brown, President of American Life League (ALL) can tell you all about this schism as well.  Sadly, the majority voice on the national level has been that of compromise.  The movement and innocent children conceived in rape have suffered as a result, because they’ve celebrated mediocrity instead of achieving success by electing the best possible pro-life legislators.

At the state level, on the other hand, Right to Life of Michigan was able to successfully persuade other state groups across the nation to go to the no exceptions, no compromise model – including Georgia Right to Life (GRTL).  Dan Becker details Georgia’s dramatic transformation within his book, Personhood:  A Pragmatic Guide to Pro-Life Victory in the 21st Century and the Return to First Principles in Politics.  Georgia was the worst in the nation – worse than California or New York, with no pro-life laws on the books.  They only had 3% of the entire legislature who were 100% pro-life in the whole state.  When GRTL went to this model of no exceptions, no compromise, they lost half their board over it and both parties told them they were finished in Georgia and rendered irrelevant.  But what did they have to lose?  In about 10 years, when Dan Becker wrote his book, they went from worst to being ranked 4the in the nation by Americans United for Life (AUL,) with a Gold Star rating.  And Georgia’s laws have NO rape exceptions!  Every state-wide elected official – Governor, Lt. Governor, Secretary of State, and Attorney General were all 100% pro-life, and in fact, signed an affidavit with GRTL vowing not to compromise on that stance.  This is ONLY the result of GRTL’s leadership and the decision not to compromise pro-life values.

Meanwhile, in Congress, they’re not getting anything done.  Yet somehow, NRLC and others still think their strategy of compromise is effective.  You hear them say things like – “It’s the burning building analogy.  You save the 99 in exchange for the 1, saving as many as you can, while working to save all.”  There are several problems with this strategy.  First of all, they are not working to save all.  The reality is that they shut the water off, send the fire trucks home, and stand there watching the building burn with the 1 left inside.  The compromisers never go back to save the 1.  The Hyde Amendment’s rape exception has been in place for more than two decades now, but instead of working to challenge it, the rape exception has become the standard and the Hyde Amendment is regularly used to justify it:  “It merely incorporates the terms of Hyde.”  They’ve already determined that the child conceived in rape is an expendable casualty and not worth the effort to defend.

Whenever I hear “Save the 99 in exchange for the 1,” I can’t help but think of the Parable of the Lost Sheep, because Jesus was all about saving the 1!   He starts out by saying, “See that you do not despise any of these little ones.”  Despise???  What a strange thing to say!  Why would anyone despise a little one?  Well, Sean Hannity called us an “evil seed” during his April 30, 2013 radio interview of Lila Rose.  Bishop Paul Morton , Jr. called us a “demon seed, not what God created” at a pastors conference of 2,000.  We’re called “horrible reminder of the rape,” “demon spawn,” “monster’s child,” “tainting the gene pool.”  Yeah, we’re despised – certainly more than any other people group today.

Jesus continues in Matthew 18: “For I tell you that their angels in Heaven always look upon the face of my Father in Heaven.”  Then He goes into the whole Parable of the Lost Sheep, where the Good Shepherd leaves the 99 to save the 1, and Jesus ends the lesson by saying, “In the same way, your Father in Heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.”  And neither should we!  Who are “the least of these” of whom Jesus spoke?  Are not children conceived in rape the least of the least in today’s society?  It's absolutely deplorable that any pro-life leader would suggest that they are in fact willing that any of these little ones should perish.  Because we're despised, it makes it easier for you?  Horrible!

So back to the burning building – what’s really happening is that you have people going in for job interviews (candidates) to become firefighters (legislators.)  These prospective firefighters sit down and tell the fire chiefs (leaders in the pro-life movement,) “Just so you know – I discriminate.  Yeah, if I go into a burning building and there are children in the midst of the fire in the back of the building, I’m not going to save them.  They’re going to be painfully disfigured and thus, will be a horrible reminder of the fire, and I’m just not going to do that to their parents, so I will discriminate and I’m going to let them die.  And if you try to force me to go in and save them, I just won’t go in and save any.”

Now tell me, what fire chief in his right mind would hire such a person as a firefighter?!  But that’s what far too many pro-life leaders have been doing.  And then, if somehow one inadvertently got hired, then refused to go in and save any if not allowed to discriminate, what fire chief would give his blessing on leaving an innocent child behind?!  And what fire chief wouldn’t immediately fire that firefighter?!  But instead, what’s been happening is that the corrupt fire chiefs not only support these deadly actions, but they reward them with a bonus in the form of a 100% approval rating and PAC endorsement!  The burning building predicament is not an emergency situation, but entirely foreseeable when they lower their standards and endorse these candidates.  And it’s preventable because there are good firefighters who don’t discriminate.

Do you see the problem now?  And if that’s not bad enough, then you have some good fire chiefs like GRTL  who are attacked by the bad fire chiefs, and they try to run them out of their jurisdiction by appointing another corrupt fire chief like Georgia Life Alliance who wants to unravel all of the good work GRTL’s done by undermining the standard of non-discrimination!  Let me be clear – Georgia Life Alliance would bring Georgia back to the days of utter failure.  They’ve already given Congressman Doug Collins a 100% approval rating when he allows for the rape exception!  How is that possible?  It’s just like how Eric Cantor was rewarded with a 100% approval rating by NRLC when he introduced the rape exception in the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which is completely misleading to those who think a 100% approval rating from a pro-life organization means the candidate is actually 100% pro-life.  Go figure!

Rebecca Kiessling with Dr. Paul Broun at MiCPAC
And for the record, I AM pain-capable, despite the apparent rumors.  Former Congressman Dr. Paul Broun from Georgia was absolutely correct when he pointed out that the rape exception in the Pain Capable bill creates a subclass of humans.  Just imagine the screams of pain coming from the 350+ members of  Save The 1 who were conceived in rape or mothers from rape.  I assure you, the pain inflicted when we are targeted and devalued is life-long.

But too many are just accustomed to my people group being treated as the scapegoat, pawn, bargaining chip, cannon fodder, sin eater of the pro-life movement – being punished not only for the sins of our biological fathers, but for the sins of mediocre politicians as well.  Consider replacing the rape-conceived with any other people group – for example, “except in cases of Jewish babies.”  What message would that send to every Jew living in America today?  It tells them that their life is not as valuable  -- that they are “tainted” and not as worthy of life and protection as everyone else.  No other people group is as systematically targeted and discriminated against in today’s society as the child conceived in rape.  Rape survivor mothers, who are raising their children whom they love, grieve at how their children are devalued and how they are being exploited, and this lethal prejudice must end!

So now we must ask, who are these compromise organizations more interested in protecting?  The innocent child conceived in rape, or politicians who vow to discriminate?  The 14th Amendment says that no state shall deprive a person of their right to life without due process of law, and that no state shall deny a person equal protection of the laws.  Rape exceptions violate equal protection.  You cannot legitimately support the 14th Amendment right to life, while denying its equal protection requirements.

There is a superior strategy – not only morally superior, but practically superior as well because being 100% pro-life is really the litmus test for how passionate a candidate is about protecting life.  These are our champions who are able to bring us out of deadly stagnation.  Dan Becker was right – being principled IS the most the pragmatic approach.  Michigan and Georgia are proof of that.  So let’s punish rapists, not babies, and protect babies, not politicians.


BIO:  Rebecca Kiessling is a wife, mother of 5, attorney and international pro-life speaker.  She’s the founder and President of the global pro-life organization Save The 1 -- addressing all of the so-called "hard cases" in the abortion debate, co-founder of Hope After Rape Exception, and national spokeswoman for and Executive Committee Board Member of Personhood Alliance.
Tuesday, May 3, 2016

My Wife and I Both Saw This Baby as Something Beautiful Coming From Such Evil, by Jeff (husband of Jennifer Christie)

I really don't like thinking about this time.  Just saying the words are hard: My wife was raped.

There's grief and anger -- rage really, like I've never felt before toward anyone, wanting to find this man . . . .  Above all, there was frustration. Jennifer had just been through something so horrible and scary and I couldn't make it better.  I couldn't fix it for her.  

I had so many regrets running through my head. How would things have been different IF?:  If I'd driven to the hotel where she'd been staying the week to surprise her (I almost did.)  If I'd asked her not to take that out of town job.  If this, if that. . . .

We had just set Jennifer up with a therapist to help her work through some of the early signs of PTSD – nightmares and panic attacks, when we found out she was pregnant.  From somewhere near Aruba where she was working on a cruise ship she calls me:  “I'm pregnant.”
 
People always seem surprised by my reaction, and I never understand it.  I didn't think, “What do we do now?”  I knew what was right already.  She just told me the news.  I thought, “Okay. This is what we're doing now.

A baby is the beginning of something -- not a “problem” to fix. The words “I'm pregnant” should never be followed by, “What should we do about it?”  
The thing is, it wasn't ever “Her rapist got her pregnant,” or “Because she was assaulted, now she's having a baby.”  It was:  My wife is pregnant. We're having a kid.  A new baby.  There's a blank canvas.

This child on the way didn't make any decisions about his conception.  How could anyone place blame on him?

We knew that the pregnancy would be physically difficult for Jen -- we had no idea just how bad -- but emotionally, we both saw this baby as something beautiful coming from such evil.  It may sound strange to others, but we really did, and do, see our son as a blessing.

I've never considered my son to be "somebody else's."  As we were working through the most horrible thing my wife had ever been through in her life, we were also having a baby.  These things never seemed connected. I don't look at any of my other kids and think, “Oh, that one -- he was from our New York trip. . . .  And her over there?  She was the night in '97 when the power went out.”

Jennifer and I are so spiritually and emotionally connected.  She's been my soul mate since I met her at fifteen.  In both of our minds, there really was no discussion to be had.  My bride was having a baby. Therefore, we were having a baby.  That's all.

It's been two years since she was raped, and I still have moments of anger. They don't come as often.  I see the effects of my wife's assault still.  We know there are lifelong effects of rape which probably won't ever go away and we're coping with those issues.

However, separate and apart from that, we have this 18 month old.  I think it's
safe to say that he's my favorite.  This is our family joke, because I've said this about all the kids at this age.  Babies are so full of joy and that happiness is contagious!  This kid is so full of hugs and giggles, he just makes the world brighter.  The whole world is new, full of discoveries, and seeing that through his eyes is an unexpected gift.

When I look at him, I see simple happiness and curiosity.  His big blue eyes shine just like his Mama's.  The kid is beautiful, with an infectious smile.  I've been given this little boy who looks to me to be his Dad, who counts on me to care for him and guide him and be there for him every time he turns around.

Who is he going to grow up to be?  That's up to him.  But every one of my boys knows how to treat a woman.  Every one of my boys opens the door for his mom, pulls her chair out, serves her first, and speaks with respect.  It's my job -- my honor -- to teach my youngest how to be a man.  And I take this God-given responsibility very seriously.

I learned about honor and respect growing up in a family where we knew our parents loved us, but we also knew without their saying it, that they loved each other.  We never saw them fight or disagree or argue in front of us.  They personified the verse that said "the two shall become one flesh."  I learned from my dad how to treat women.  Did he sit me down and lay it out?  No.  He lived it.  

This is how I teach my boys.  They see how I treat their mom.  They see how I treat their sister.  They see how every woman I talk to is given the respect and honesty due them.  My sons open doors. They speak humbly and respectfully to adults. They treat their female friends with dignity.

Do they fight with each other?  With their sister?  Often, and loudly.  But the tone with sis is different.  This isn't about equality.  It's about understanding that there is a difference, and it will be acknowledged.  

My daughter once confided in her mom that she thinks I spoiled her for guys -- that she expects too much from them, based on how we are with each other.  First off, good.  She needs to keep her standards high. The right guy is out there, and he won't be someone she has to fix.  Secondly, I have to say that I didn't tell her what to look for.  She knows what we have, and knows that it's right.

My Dad and I were both Marines.  The Marine Corps teaches about honor, courage & commitment. They talk about defending those who can't defend themselves.  They teach us this priority:  God, family, Corps, and I’ve tried to live by that code.

My wife and I are about to celebrate 21 years of marriage.  I said "for better or worse" and I meant it.  The vows we take don't change when life gets difficult.

When I look in my baby's eyes I see innocence and trust.  And a lot of love.  He IS my son.  He knows me as Daddy.  He calls me Daddy.  That's the best feeling in the world, and I wouldn't have it any other way!

One last thought -- some friends of ours started a gofundme account for us, designed to fill in the current gaps in income while Jennifer is suffering serious seizures and I miss work to take care of her.  The seizures are post-traumatic epilepsy directly caused by the beating she took during the assault in January of 2014.  We wanted to take this opportunity to thank every single person who donated, as well as every single person who couldn't, but left us a beautiful and encouraging message.  Every word you write is read, and we pray over you and your family the way you've prayed over mine. 

If you would like to write to us, we'd love to hear from you and the gofundme link is really the best place to do so in order that we may protect our family, for obvious reasons: 
https://www.gofundme.com/tbw9nbdg.

God is good.  All the time.

BIO:  Jeff is the husband of Jennifer Christie – both pro-life bloggers for Save The 1.  He’s also the father of 5, caregiver to his wife, former Marine, and works as an automotive industry professional.  Two posts by his wife Jennifer are here:  http://savethe1.blogspot.com/2016/04/raped-married-and-pregnant-when-people.html and her first blog for us - http://savethe1.blogspot.com/2014/12/raped-while-on-business-trip-my-husband.html



Monday, May 2, 2016

We Gave the Best in our Hands for Him to be Happy While Growing in the Womb by Gustavo Armijo Griñen

At 20 weeks of gestation my partner went to her first ultrasound and the doctor told us it was
a boy (Alonso). He also said he had "holoprosencephaly." The whole world came down on us, This was our first child, and from the moment we learned we were going to be parents were the happiest couple ever.

At this news, we wanted to have a second opinion and traveled to Santiago, Chile where she took another 3D ultrasound, and the diagnosis was "Acrania" (he was missing part of his encephalic mass).


They recommended an abortion (if it had been legal in Chile, or go elsewhere), but we did not hesitate for a second that we would keep on going, and relied on God, praying for a miracle or that our little one would not suffer much. In addition, we sent a letter to the Brazilian monks with much faith, because we had to try everything.


The following months were very hard, but also the best.  As the weeks passed, we sang to him, we talked to him, we went to the beach, the countryside, birthday parties, and to many family gatherings.  We took thousands of photos, and gave many kisses on the belly and never got tired of saying that we LOVED him.  He was the most beautiful thing God could send us.


Little Alonso's due date was the first week of January this year, but he came early and was born on December 23rd at 8:37 p.m., my fighter.  Our happiness, but also concern, for my partner and our family, was enormous.


My little one was with us one hour and two minutes. Then he went to heaven because God needed a fighter angel. 


It's been 4 months now since our son's death.  We are happy because we gave the best in our hands for him to be happy while growing in the womb and in the short hour he was with us.

We know we have a little angel who cares and loves us, as we made him feel loved.  We will never forget what we went through, and the love we still have for our "Alonso Ignacio."


Gustavo Armijo Griñen is from Chile and wrote out his story for Save The 1's spanish division -- Salvar El 1.