This week I had an incredible opportunity to interview a person who I have admired greatly for years: Rebecca Kiessling, mother of 5 on earth (3 in heaven), an attorney, pro-life speaker and president of Save the 1.
Rebecca is a bold and courageous woman who advocates for those who are targeted for abortion because of the exception of rape. As one who very narrowly escaped abortion for that very reason, her passion for preborn children is great.
Please take a moment to read through the interview below, where she describes her incredible story:
How did you get to where you are today? Tell me about some of the struggles you’ve been through, and what may still lie ahead?
Rebecca: I was adopted. When I was 18, my aunt informed me that I had been conceived in rape. When I was 19, I had the opportunity to meet my birth mother. She was very happy to meet me. However, she filled me in on the horrible details of how she was abducted at knifepoint and brutally raped. She informed me that she would have aborted me if it had been legal to do so.
I can’t imagine what thoughts must have been running through your mind when you heard those words.
Rebecca: When I learned how I had been conceived, I felt very much devalued, and targeted by our society. (I hear what people say about the exceptions in the case of rape). When my mother said that she would have aborted me, I wanted very much to prove my worth to her. I hoped that she would eventually change her mind. It took about 6 years, however. When my niece was in an unplanned pregnancy with her first great grandchild, my birth mother did in fact change her views about abortion. Now we are both thankful that we were spared the horror of abortion.
A lot of people think that my story is that my mother was pro-life and chose life for me, and how nice that is…but that’s not my story! My story is that she actually went to back alley illegal abortionists, and I was almost aborted. Without a doubt if it hadn’t been illegal, she would have aborted me. I owe my life to the law…it’s the only reason I wasn’t killed. I know all the details of my impending death. I know how much it was going to cost: $500.00. I know where she had to meet the abortionist at night…she was to be blindfolded, put in the backseat of a car- they were going to keep her overnight if there were any complications.
There’s actually a film, Back Alley Detroit, which is the number one documentary, or rather the only documentary, on the back alley network. Back Alley Detroit is where I would have been aborted, so I could actually see these abortionists that she likely would have been meeting. That was a life changing near death experience. Knowing my life was spared, I can’t just sit back and say, “At least my life was saved”, and then turn a blind eye to the millions of others who need protection. I want to see that others are protected just as I was protected.
I think that your life was spared for just a purpose…is this why you chose to be a voice for the preborn who are targeted in this way?
Rebecca: It’s out of gratitude that I do this work. Since my own life was spared, I want to work to see that they are protected, just as I was protected. I believe the most selfish thing would be to just sit back and do nothing.
How have you seen the impact of sharing your story?
Rebecca: Most of the time you never know, but every now and then you get emails. Like last year I got an email from a woman in Germany (my story has been translated into many different languages), whose best friend Googled “conceived in rape” (in German). My story came up in her language and it influenced her. She told me that not only did it save the baby’s life, but it saved the mother’s life as well because she had been feeling so hopeless. The story gave her hope.
Have you ever read any inspirational books that have made a difference in your life?
Rebecca: Nothing else has made as much of a difference as scripture. One of the first verses I was introduced to and made an impression on me was Ephesians 1:5 – “…he predestined us for adoption as children through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will.”, because I definitely had issues associated with my adoption. (This was mainly because I knew that for my adoptive parents I was second best/last resort. They would not have wanted me if they weren’t infertile. My adoption story was all about their infertility, and they wound up being very abusive.)
Now, our oldest children are adopted and my baby Kathy, who died in my arms at 33 days old was adopted.
I am very pro-adoption, and that scripture was what confirmed for me that adoption really is not second best.
Another scripture that made a difference in my life was Psalm 27:10, “Though my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will receive me.” This one really ministered to me, because I felt very forsaken when my mother told me that it was her body her choice- essentially that her body was more important than my whole life. It was very painful to hear.
Yet another scripture that brought me comfort was that God is a “Father to the Fatherless” (Psalm 68:5). It was a blessing to know that God had accepted me, an orphan, into his family. Knowing that I was created in His image, by Him, for a purpose (that was an important one for me because many people would say that I was created by the rapist, in his image!)
What do you hope to accomplish in the next 5 years?
Rebecca: For many years now I’ve been mentoring others who have these stories, and have founded an organization called Save the 1. We have a board and a couple of dozen speakers, and we have a database of about 100 with these stories so far. I would like to see Save the 1 grow so we have impact – I believe there is strength in numbers.
I know God wants to use other people just as he used me, so I hope to launch other speakers and commit them and help to get their stories out there. Besides that, I want to continue the work we have been doing, to prevent and remove rape exceptions in the law. We have had great success here in Michigan where we overrode the governors veto, and there were many of us with these stories who were present to help strengthen the legislators and also to put a face to the issue. Ultimately, of course, I want to see an end to abortion. However, we are not going to have an end to abortion until we stop the exceptions.
Tell me about the joy in your life right now. Where do you think true happiness comes from?
Rebecca: God has blessed me with a wonderful husband, and 5 beautiful children plus 3 in heaven. Our oldest two are adopted from the same birth mother. We have three biological daughters. Then we had one daughter who died at 33 weeks, and two babies lost to miscarriage. I think that true joy is knowing God, and having a relationship with him, and sharing eternity with Him. True happiness is doing His will because He knows the outcome.
What ways can people get involved in helping the pro-life cause?
Rebecca: There are so many ways that one can get involved. I like the idea that we are the body of Christ, all different parts of the body. We have different gifts, talents, skills, and experiences. And God can use us in different ways. Some of the opportunities could be becoming a sidewalk counselor and praying outside abortion clinics, volunteering at a Pregnancy Resource Center, becoming active legislatively, blogging, and sharing your stories.
I think that if people shared their stories more, we could really change our communities and culture. I believe too many people don’t share out of fear, or that it may be too personal, or they don’t realize what a difference it could make.
If people have family secrets that don’t get shared, one day their children or grandchildren could end up having abortions, which would provide lingering regret after learning about how their mother or grandmother went through a difficult pregnancy after the most difficult circumstances (I’ve met people like that, where that happened). Their family secret could have made a big difference in the lives of their descendants.
I will be trying to post about one inspirational person every week. If you know someone who has an inspiring story to share, please send me an email.