WASHINGTON, D.C. – Through no fault of their own, some people have been used as excuses or “exceptions” for abortion on demand. Three of these exceptional exceptions spoke to WND about their missions to save all babies from abortion.
Rebecca Kiessling, who was conceived during rape prior to the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade ruling, is the woman who “changed” Gov. Rick Perry’s “heart” during his presidential campaign. Kristi Hofferber was conceived during a crime of incest and now challenges people who say they’re pro-life, but think it’s perfectly fine to abort babies conceived during rape and incest. And Tony Melendez was born without arms, but captured the world’s attention in 1987 when he sang and played guitar with his feet for Pope John Paul II.
How Kiessling moved Perry
Rebecca Kiessling is a wife and mother of five, plus an attorney who testifies before state legislatures for Personhood USA, a group seeking to protect all unborn persons with legal declarations of personhood in answer to Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun’s opinion of Roe v. Wade. She’s featured in the new Citizens United DVD “The Gift of Life,” which is narrated by Mike Huckabee.
A screening of “Gift” was held in Iowa prior to the caucuses, and all of the GOP candidates were invited. Yet only four attended: Rep. Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Gov. Rick Perry and Rick Santorum. Kiessling had a backstage pass and used it to thank Bachmann and Santorum for being “100-percent pro-life.” She also used it to question Perry and Gingrich on why they thought abortion is acceptable for unborn babies conceived during rape and incest.
As Kiessling told it to WND, she gave all the candidates her own story on DVD. Perry asked her to autograph “Conceived in Rape: From Worthless to Priceless” for his daughter.
Kiessling said Perry called her his “heroine,” to which she replied: “Thanks. It’s funny you say that, though. My question for you is: Would you be my hero? I’m alive today because pro-life leaders in Michigan made sure abortion was illegal even in cases of rape. … They recognized that mine was a life worth saving. I owe my life to them. They’re my heroes. Would you be my hero, too?”
Perry pondered the fact that Kiessling might have been aborted if Michigan law didn’t protect her.
She said he repeated the phrase, “I just can’t imagine. I just can’t imagine.”
Kiessling told Perry the Supreme Court decided that rapists don’t deserve the death penalty, but the unborn children of rapists may be executed. She told him that his preference to allow abortion in cases of rape and incest means innocent children may be executed for the crimes of their fathers.
Ultimately, Perry replied, “No more exceptions.”
Kiessling said Perry later told her that she had become “a face” to personalize the issue for him.
Kiessling approached Gingrich in a similar manner and asked him to reconsider his “rape exception.” He was due onstage but spoke to Kiessling afterward as she dined with his staff. Kiessling said Gingrich wouldn’t discuss exceptions with her in Iowa, but he and Perry later signed the Personhood USA pledge. Mitt Romney is the only current GOP presidential contender who hasn’t signed the pledge.
The ‘incest’ exception has a new face
“I cringe when someone says they’re pro-life but they believe in exceptions for rape and incest,” Kristi Hofferber told WND. “Then I step in and say, ‘Wait a minute. I was conceived in incest, and I’m just as human as you are. Thankfully, I have my life. And others could have life instead of paying the price for their fathers’ sins.’”
Hofferber was raised by adoptive parents whom she loves. In 2008, at the age of 30, she was compelled to find out from where she came. To her shock, she found out, “I am the only survivor of six children conceived in incest.”
No one in the family of Hofferber’s mother believed she was raped by her own father. When Hofferber was 13, her mother tried to prosecute the rapist. However, detectives couldn’t find Hofferber, the only living proof of his crimes, and so the rapist spent little time in jail.
In 2008, Hofferber found her biological mother and thanked her for life, but the statute of limitations to prosecute the criminal had expired. Hofferber is alive because her then 16-year-old mother was able to hide her pregnancy from the rapist
Hofferber’s siblings didn’t fare so well. One died when the rapist threw her mother down some stairs and caused a miscarriage. And abortionists helped the rapist to escape justice when he forced his victim daughter to terminate four other children conceived in incest.
Yet Hofferber knows she’s not merely proof of her father’s crimes but proof of her mother’s love and God’s love, too. Hofferber is now the wife of a Christian pastor and an adoptive mother. The rapist who stalked and threatened her mother for decades finally died in 2011.
“He was able to escape the punishment he deserves due to the legalization of abortion,” Hofferber said. “The option of abortion allowed him to punish my brothers and sisters with death. This is wrong in so many ways. God has a plan for each and every child, including those of us conceived in incest and rape. To have abortion as a legal choice hurts everyone involved.”
Disability ‘exceptions’ have a voice
WND met up with Tony Melendez at Faith and Action, where he played guitar and sang prayers at a Mass celebrated by the organization’s cofounder, Father Paul Schenck, for Catholic pro-life pilgrims.
After Melendez first performed for Pope John Paul II, the Holy Father from Poland said, “Tony! Tony! Tony, you are truly a courageous young man, courageous young man. You are giving hope to all [of] us, and my wish to you is to continue giving this hope to all, all the people.”
Melendez took that to heart, traveling far and wide to spread the gospel of life.
He said, “I’m here for the March for Life. I come a week before to visit schools, sing and tell people about the march, and I’ve been doing that for the last 14 years. I will always come to Washington a week before to give a message of hope and message of life. I go anywhere I’m invited.”
These days, some 90 percent of babies prenatally diagnosed with disabilities are aborted, even though some diagnoses are incorrect. As a consequence of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade ruling, pregnant mothers in America can have their unborn children terminated for any reason – or no reason.
Melendez cut to the chase: “Let me put it this way. If we can send someone to jail for picking up a turtle egg in Florida and playing with the nest of turtles, how can we not protect human life? Here I am armless, and I don’t use my fists to fight because I don’t have them. I can’t imagine killing someone because we consider him a fetus. It’s a human, a human life. We consider a turtle egg a turtle. How can we not consider an unborn human, human? I don’t get it. That’s why it hurts me what we’re doing as the human race.”
Perils of the Hyde Amendment
As Norma McCorvey – “Jane Roe” in Roe v. Wade – revealed in her 2005 congressional testimony, the Supreme Court “legalized” abortion based on the lie that she had been raped.
According to the National Right to Life Committee, in 1959 pro-abortion lawyers organized a strategy using rape, incest, “fetal deformity” and so-called mental or physical health of the mother as excuses for legalizing abortion on demand.
Years prior to the Roe case, a few state legislatures and governors adopted that idea and made laws permitting abortions in such cases. Then in 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court used the exceptions as reasoning to strip all states of their ability to protect unborn persons from abortion.
Explained Kiessling, “Under Roe v. Wade, footnote 54, in the discussion of personhood the court pointed out that because Texas had exceptions, it undermined the state’s whole argument for personhood, because if you have exceptions, you don’t really believe the unborn are persons. When all aren’t protected, none are protected.”
During the Personhood USA/Champion the Vote debate in South Carolina, Rick Perry spoke about how Kiessling had changed “his heart” on the exceptions issue, and Newt Gingrich, a relatively new Catholic, said, “We are fully human at conception, and therefore rights should attach at that moment. … We have to find a mechanism to define personhood as beginning at conception.”
But Gingrich went on to praise the late Rep. Henry Hyde, R-Ill., a fellow Catholic, for his Hyde Amendment, which was explicitly written to ban government funding of abortions except for certain cases, including rape, incest and life of the mother.
The Catholic Church, however, has always recognized procured abortions as intrinsically evil. It teaches that in a dangerous pregnancy, all efforts should be made to save both the mother and her unborn child. However, there is a principle of “double effect”: If an unborn baby dies during efforts to save him and his mother, no one is guilty of abortion. Furthermore, a mother may refuse something like cancer treatment if that treatment endangers her unborn baby. In brief, the Catholic Church condemns all human laws permitting procured abortions, without “exceptions.”
Kiessling said that through the Hyde Amendment, some pro-lifers “decided a generation ago that we’re expendable – that children conceived in rape are expendable.”
Kiessling explained, “I’ve been testifying before state legislatures across the United States for Personhood USA. Many legislators want to pass abortion bans or they want to get personhood amendments on the ballots, and it passes out of committee, but then it gets killed on the floor because their state budget office says, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa. You can’t pass this because there’s no rape exception. We have to fund abortions in cases of rape and incest because of Hyde.’
“You see,” Kiessling continued, “Hyde used to merely permit states to fund abortions, but President Clinton issued a mandate that requires states – meaning taxpayers – to pay for abortions in cases specified by the Hyde Amendment. So Planned Parenthood started suing states like Michigan and got them under court order to fund abortions in cases of rape, incest and life of the mother. Now Hyde has a chilling effect on states who want to ban abortion, who want to challenge Roe v. Wade by declaring personhood. People don’t understand how insidious Hyde is. We need to repeal the Hyde exceptions to lay a foundation that allows to us to overturn Roe v. Wade.”