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The Iowa Fetal Heartbeat Bill and the Unjust Rape Exception
Rebecca Kiessling, J.D. 30 August 2018
For over 45 years, the pro-life movement in the United States has been fighting tirelessly to restore legal protection to the unborn. Unfortunately, exceptions to protective legislation, allowing abortions in cases of rape, incest, fetal abnormality, and life of the mother have become the accepted norm by those in the pro-life movement. There is no moral justification for exempting these children from legal protection, rather these exceptions are made for political expediency.
I am one of those “exceptions.” I was conceived in rape and nearly aborted. To advocate on behalf of those conceived under similar circumstances, I founded Save the 1, which is a global organization of over 600 individuals conceived in rape, mothers who have suffered through rape, incest, or sex trafficking, as well as hundreds given a pre-natal diagnosis of life “incompatible with life.”
At Save the 1 we specialize in defending all of the so-called “hard cases.” As a pro-life attorney, this is why I went to law school; in fact, I was born for this. The most selfish thing I could do would be to just live my life not caring about others who are similarly-situated and yet at risk. They are just as worthy of life as I am, and as worthy of protection as any other beating heart. I owe my life to the law which protected me in Michigan, exactly 4 years before Roe v Wade. The least I can do is use my talents and abilities to help restore legal protection to those in similar circumstances.
Due to our unique perspective and expertise, Save the 1 was invited to testify on the “Heartbeat Bill”i and the “Life at Conception Bill”ii last year in Iowa. On May 4, 2018, Governor Kim Reynolds signed the “Fetal Heartbeat Bill” into law. Of course, Planned Parenthood filed a legal challenge in state court. Save the 1 has filed a motion to intervene on behalf of the unborn excluded from the protections of this law.iii
The law, if upheld, would protect unborn children who have a detectable heartbeat, except "when the abortion is medically necessary." Unfortunately, the law defines "medically necessary" as cases of rape, incest, and fetal abnormality, making the abortion provider the sole arbiter of these determinations, with no further reporting required to the state.iv These exceptions were surprisingly added at the last hour -- allegedly because certain legislators in the House would not vote for the bill without the exceptions. But they included a severability clause, which would allow the court to sever any provisions deemed unconstitutional, while upholding the remainder of the law -- this is why we filed our motion to intervene. Save the 1 seeks to have the discriminatory provisions removed, with the remainder of the law upheld. The exceptions within the law violate the fundamental right to life of these unborn children, depriving them of due process and equal protection under both the Iowa and U.S. constitutions.
As it stands now, only those unborn children with a detectable heartbeat that do not fall under the exceptions standard are protected. This means that those who are, or have been, conceived in rape, incest or have a severe fetal abnormality are denied equal protection. Can you imagine an accused rapist being sentenced to death merely because a woman accuses him of rape without ever having it reported to police or going through a proper trial? That is exactly what is happening here.
My life was spared for a purpose, and I did not miss out on the magnitude of the moment as I defended my own right to life in court during the August 17, 2018 motion to intervene, along with the rest of those unborn conceived in rape and the other so-called difficult cases who were targeted for extermination by the law. After all, their hearts beat just like anyone else’s, and perhaps you can imagine how horrific it is that these politicians would suggest that it was “medically necessary” for my birth-mother to kill me! In fact, Planned Parenthood argued in its brief that it is “humanitarian” to end of the lives of people like us. They also suggested that we, who are conceived in rape or incest, are only loved by our mothers because they chose life. But mine did not – she chose abortion, and yet, today, she loves me. As I wrote in an essay, “Every child is created by God, in His image, for a purpose.”v Furthermore, we need to keep in mind what Scripture says in Proverbs 17:15, “Acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent— the Lord detests them both.” I am as worthy of love and life as anyone else, and I deserved the protection I received prior to Roe v Wade.
During my testimony, the Polk County Judge wanted to know if any case like this had ever been filed before since Planned Parenthood had been repeatedly saying that our motion to intervene was unprecedented. I told the judge that there was no network that represented the interests our demographic until I founded Save the 1. To illustrate my point, I told the court that if the exception had been in cases of biracial rape or in cases of black babies then the NAACP would be the organization seeking to intervene on behalf of their demographic. Additionally, there would be a national outcry that such discrimination and hatred was codified. But people are simply used to my demographic being vilified and dehumanized and continue to perpetuate the myth that our mothers are better off with us dead. I further explained to the judge the eugenics which exists within the medical community that not only pressures parents into aborting but then refuses to treat these children once they are born. We deserve our day in court to allow the truth to come out and all of this evidence be brought to light.
If the court denies our motion to intervene, we will file a case in federal court, which is where this case ultimately needs to be anyway, because the Iowa Supreme Court recently found a right to an abortion in late June under the Iowa state constitution which is much broader than under Roe v Wade and its progeny.vi If our motion is granted, we will seek to move the whole case to federal court, which is the only hope of the Iowa Fetal Heartbeat Law being upheld. Without us, this law is dead in the Iowa courts. It is a tragic reality that rape victims are four times more likely to die within the next year after the abortion. Sex traffickers, child molesters and rapists love abortion and the abortion clinic is their best friend. Planned Parenthood has been exposed how they cover up rape, child molestation and sex trafficking.vii They destroy the evidence and allow these perpetrators to continue exploiting. The truth is, a baby is not the worst thing that could ever happen to a rape victim, but abortion is. The Fetal Heartbeat Law, as it currently stands, not only fails to recognize the dignity of those conceived in rape or incest and those with a fetal abnormality, it fails to protect the women who are victims themselves.
[i] SF 359
[ii] SF 253. The text of the bill may be viewed here: https://www.legis.iowa.gov/legislation/BillBook?ba=SF253&ga=87.
[iii] Save the 1 filed June 18, 2018.
[iv] See SF 359, page 3, section 3, subsection 4.
[v] See “What Advice Should Clergy Give to a Woman Pregnant by Rape”, the essay may be viewed here: https://savethe1.blogspot.com/2018/01/what-advice-should-clergy-give-to-woman.html?m=1.
[vi] The decision may be viewed here: https://www.iowacourts.gov/courtcases/439/embed/SupremeCourtOpinion.
[vii] You may view several documented cases of such abuse here: https://www.liveaction.org/what-we-do/investigations/aidingabusers/.
Rebecca Kiessling, J.D., conceived in rape, is a pro-life attorney, international pro-life speaker, wife and mother of 5. She is the president and founder of Save the 1 (www.savethe1.com).