I am writing in response to a recent event hosted by Students for Life, featuring Rebecca Kiessling (who says that she was “conceived in rape,” and now opposes abortion under all circumstances.) I am quite familiar with Kiessling’s narrative and believe that her anti-choice philosophy on abortion is immoral.
Kiessling has been making her living by capitalizing on tragedy – her mother’s tragedy of rape – in order to further oppress women in similar situations. This event was, at its core, blatantly meant to shame and blame rape victims and their advocates.
Consider this: A victim of rape has already had choice taken away from her once (she did not choose to have sex), and should she find herself pregnant as a result, the “pro-lifers” want to take choice away from rape victims again (by forcing them to carry to term whether they like it or not).
This position is abhorrent because it takes away dignity from the woman by re-victimizing her, reducing her to an object once again. To the rapist, she was nothing but a sex object; to people like Rebecca Kiessling, it is implied that a woman is nothing but an incubator. Several people left halfway through Kiessling’s talk because they were too disgusted to hear any more.
They found her position arrogant and her tone hyperbolic. I can understand why.
Not every pregnancy conceived in rape is destined to become another Kiessling, or the next Heisman trophy winner, or the genius who will cure cancer, as she would lead you to believe.
Even without the possibility of abortion, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists reveal that approximately one in four pregnancies will end in natural miscarriage.
In other words, even without abortion, there is never a guarantee – biological or otherwise – that every pregnancy will result in a live birth. It’s extremely telling that Kiessling is able to self-identify and sympathize with the human embryo (which does not have the capacity for sentience or suffering) more than she is able to self-identify and empathize with actual persons: women.
Her position values the existence of embryonic life over the life of the woman. This is extremely shameful and sends a degrading message to women everywhere. If she is really so concerned about embryos, then why isn’t she traveling the country lecturing people about miscarriage (spontaneous abortion)?
It just seems really transparent to me that she would rather shame and blame rape victims about abortion. Finally, there are those who believe (myself included) that forced pregnancy/birth is rape. So, by not allowing a victim to choose whether or not she will carry to term, it is like being raped a second time, but throughout a period of nine months.
Any victim’s rights advocate will tell you that healing begins when you give autonomy back to the victim. Victim’s rights advocates trust women with choice and autonomy, unlike rapists, and unlike Kiessling.
The choice in becoming a mother or not is entirely up to the woman, and I trust that whatever decision she makes is the right one for her, in her process of reclaiming her life and her dignity.