Friday, August 14, 2015

Sen. Rubio -- No, Every Pro-Life Group Does Not Support Rape Exception Legislation by Rebecca Kiessling

Many pro-life activists have been writing and conversing this past week about Senator Marco Rubio's recent defense of his no exceptions position, while he justifies his sponsorship of rape-exception legislation.  As someone conceived in rape and nearly aborted, I'm grateful for his verbal defense of every life, no matter how conceived, but I'm also deeply troubled by some of his comments which must be addressed.
On August 6th during the Republican debate, Fox’s Megyn Kelly challenged Marco Rubio:  “Senator Rubio, you favor rape and incest exception.  Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York just said yesterday those exceptions are ‘preposterous.’  He said they discriminate against an entire class of human beings. If you believe that life begins at conception, as you say you do, how do you justify ending a life because it begins violently through no fault of the baby?” 
First of all, Cardinal Dolan first made these comments during his interview of me on the Catholic Channel on January 21, 2015, as we were discussing the congressional “Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act” with its rape exception.  He wasn’t just saying that the exceptions are preposterous, but that it's preposterous for Catholic pro-life leaders to use Evangelium Vitae 73 (the section regarding legislation intended to reduce abortions) to justify supporting such rape exception legislation.  Cardinal Dolan completely agreed with me that there’s no way that EV 73 means that a politician or pro-life group can support such legislation which discriminates against an entire class of persons.
Sen. Marco Rubio’s reply to Megyn Kelly during the debate was, “I’m not sure that’s a correct assessment of my record.”  He went on to say “I believe every single human being is entitled to the protection of our laws,” yet he co-sponsored the 2013 Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act with a rape exception in his bill, SB 1670, which suggests that either children like me who were conceived in rape are not pain capable like everyone else, or it’s just that we can go ahead and suffer for all they care because somehow we aren't actually "entitled to the protection of our laws," as he had indicated.  What does "entitled" mean to him?  Is it just a suggestion?  Another possibility is that it’s more important to protect mediocre politicians than innocent children.  As I’ve written before, this was a “message bill” since Obama would veto it, so what message were Sen. Rubio and others sending about children conceived in rape?
On Friday morning, August 7th, just after the Republican debate, Chris Cuomo had Sen. Rubio on CNN, and asked him about his co-sponsorship of the rape exception bill.  Sen. Rubio explained:  “Everybody supported that bill.  Every single pro-life Senator, every single pro-life group including the Catholic pro-life groups supported the bill you are talking about.” 
I understand that Sen. Rubio may have that impression, but every pro-life group did NOT support the bill!  And he failed to mention that two pro-life Congressman from Georgia, Paul Broun and Bob Woodall, voted against the bill because of the rape exceptions, and because they had signed an affidavit with Georgia Right to Life vowing not to compromise on this issue.  As a consequence, National Right to Life Conference gave them a zero rating, while inexplicably rewarding Eric Cantor – the congressman who introduced the last-minute rape exception – with a 100% approval rating!  Lifesitenews exposed this scandal, which included the content of a threatening letter from NRLC which had been sent to every Congressman warning that they must approve the newly-added rape exception or suffer their wrath.  So this is why Sen. Rubio subsequently sponsored the rape exception legislation in the Senate.

And every pro-life Catholic group did not support the tainted legislation.  Priests for Life has been using EV 73 to justify supporting rape exception legislation, but American Life League properly opposed the discriminating bill.
I’ve met Sen. Rubio, and I know he doesn’t like the exceptions, but he’s willing to compromise, basically saying, “everybody’s doing it.”  However, everyone is not willing to sacrifice the lives of the rape-conceived – Broun and Woodall didn’t, but they were penalized by the pro-life power brokers in D.C., and that’s who Sen. Rubio and others improperly perceive as representative of the pro-life movement at large.  Even if it were true that all pro-life leaders support rape exceptions in the law, it doesn't change the fact that throwing the rape-conceived child under the bus is modern-day child sacrifice, and we shouldn't have to be the scapegoats for the pro-life movement.
In the Cuomo interview, Sen. Rubio explained that the bill “reduces abortions” – the point discussed between me and Cardinal Dolan, but the problem is that it also discriminates.  While Sen. Rubio defended his actions by saying “I never advocated for that (for exceptions),” his name was on the bill as a sponsor and therefore, Chris Cuomo was correct when he pointed out that “it creates an inconsistency.” 
Sen. Rubio went on to say, “You will not find a single pro-life group that refused to support that bill because it had an exception in it.”  Again, this is simply not true.  The organization I founded, Save The 1, opposed the legislation, as did Georgia Right to Life, Alaska Right to Life, Pro-Life Wisconsin, New Hampshire Right to Life, Cleveland Right to Life, NE Ohio Right to Life, American Life League, Abby Johnson, and many others.  There is a schism within the pro-life movement in the United States over the exceptions  (but not in the rest of the world) and sadly, the majority voice in the U.S. has been that of compromise.  However, there is a solid contingency of pro-life leaders and organizations who actively oppose compromising on exceptions, and they have a far more successful legislative track record than any of the compromise organizations who can't seem to get anything substantive done in D.C. because they keep propping up mediocre rape-exception politicians, giving the grass-roots voters the false impression that the Congressmen and Senators are actually 100% pro-life.
Chris Cuomo went on to tell Sen. Rubio that it is “backward looking” not to have a “carve out” for a rape and incest exception.  It’s interesting he used the term “carve out” because that’s precisely what abortionists do to the child in the womb.  Rubio responded by saying, “fortunately, those instances are extremely rare.”  I cringed when I heard him say that because the rape exception got added into the Pain Capable bill in 2013 because of that very phrase -- "extremely rare!"  After  two Democrats proposed a rape exception, the House bill's sponsor, Congressman Trent Franks, testified before the House Committee hearing that pregnancy by rape was “extremely rare.”  That was on a Wednesday.  By Friday, it was national news, with liberal media calling him “another Akin” for saying pregnancy by rape was rare.  The very next day, there was talk of a rape exception being added, and on Monday morning, Eric Cantor introduced the rape exception to get away from the "extremely rare" media scandal.  The compromise groups spontaneously jumped on board, including a concerted Twitter campaign to push it through.  NRLC sent out it's email warning to any potential objectors Monday evening, and it was passed by the House Tuesday afternoon – lightning speed.  The was all because Franks said pregnancy by rape was rare. 
We have a five state study now showing that this is not at all effective in swaying public opinion and has been proven to be quite damaging.  No politician should ever utter the words that pregnancy by rape is rare.  It doesn't matter if we are 1% or 20%.  We would never allow discrimination against Asians or Muslims just because they're only 1% of the population.  However, diminishing has been the strategy of pro-life compromise groups for decades, because it makes it easier for them to achieve what they want, regardless of exceptions.
 In the CNN interview, four times Sen. Rubio said either “I believe” or “it is my personal belief” . . . .  This is another phrase I highly recommend avoiding because many pro-choice people say the same thing.  He did a good job explaining his beliefs that “all life is worthy of protection irrespective of how that life was created” and “that you do not correct one tragedy with a second tragedy."  According to the research on messaging, the most effective defense would be to invoke the story of a woman conceived in rape or who became pregnant by rape, and then to appeal to American's sense of justice -- that it is wrong to punish an innocent person for someone else's crime.
Both Cuomo and Rubio repeatedly utilized the term “it” when discussing the pre-born child.  As I always instruct when coaching candidates on messaging, it’s far better to use terms of gender which serve to humanize the child more.  These children all have a gender – they are not an “it,” but “he” or “she,” and ascertainably so within IVF clinics, right from creation.
Cuomo said, “It has a DNA map.  So does a plant.  The question is when does it become a human being?”  Rubio was right in responding that science proves that human life begins at conception.  It’s basic Embryology 101.  In fact, IVF clinics depend upon this scientific fact because if they aren’t transferring a living human being into a woman’s uterus, then they aren’t going to make any money by doing IVF, and they’re going to be in a lot of trouble!  They need to be sure every embryo transferred is living and is human -- that's not faith, but science.
Two days after the CNN interview, on August 9th, Sen. Rubio was asked similar questions by Chuck Todd on Meet the Press:  “Will you support legislation that has exceptions?” Sen. Rubio replied, “I have.  I’ll support any legislation that reduces the number of abortions, and there are those that have that exception.”  However, I highly doubt that Sen. Rubio would co-sponsor or in any way support legislation with an exception which said, “except in case of Catholic babies,” or “except in cases of bi-racial rape,” even if it would reduce the number of abortions.  Rubio would see how obvious the discrimination is, and there's no way he'd support it -- even if it would reduce the number of abortions.  But he, along with so many others, have become used to the child conceived in rape being a bargaining chip for pro-life legislators and for the pro-life movement. Those of us who fit into those exceptions resent being treated as "the whipping boy" -- being punished not only for the sins of the rapist, but also for the sins of politicians.  The 14th Amendment demands equal protection and the discrimination must end.   Punish rapists, not babies, and protect babies, not politicians.

 In the Meet The Press interview, Sen. Rubio went on to say that with the “morning after pill” being available over the counter (like that’s a good thing?), “we can bring that number down to zero.”  Does he not realize that most rape victims never go to the police or to the hospital, but would prefer to deny the rape ever occurred?  And does he not realize that Plan B can potentially create a hostile environment so if a child has been conceived, that child has no opportunity to implant in the uterine wall, thus killing that innocent human being?

Lastly, Sen. Rubio once again repeats a falsehood:  “I recognize that in order to have consensus on laws that limit the number of abortions, a lot of people want to see those exceptions, and that’s why I’ve supported those laws in the past – as has every pro-life group in America.”  This is a scathing statement against the pro-life movement.  The truth is that the most effective pro-life groups in the United States unequivocally oppose rape exception legislation.  Right to Life of Michigan has always opposed such legislation, which is why my home state has some of the best pro-life laws passed, yet has never had a rape exception in any law!  However, I understand that Sen. Rubio made such a statement because he's trapped in the D.C. bubble, with apparently no knowledge of the tremendous success of Right to Life of Michigan and Georgia Right to Life, and this is the impression he has been given by being on Capitol Hill and working with compromise organizations.  How could he know any differently?  So let's all work to help educate our pro-life leaders, legislators and candidates so the ghastly practice of sacrificing the child conceived in rape can put be to an end.
BIO:  Rebecca Kiessling is an international pro-life speaker, writer, and attorney, as well as wife and mother of 5.  She's the President and founder of Save The 1, co-founder of Hope After Rape Conception, co-founder of Embryo Defense, and Board Member of Personhood Alliance.  She appears in numerous documentaries, including The Gift of Life with Governor Mike Huckabee and The 40 film.  Rebecca changed the hearts of Gov. Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich during the last presidential campaign, sharing her personal story of having been conceived in rape.