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|
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.