I am a law school graduate. After earning my juris doctorate degree, I had the honor of being appointed by the Governor of Louisiana as Special Assistant to the Governor on Women’s Policy. What a blessing and unique opportunity to serve this pro-life governor and the people of the great state of Louisiana! I was appointed at the sunset of the governor’s administration, and had a tremendous amount of research to do, along with numerous public speaking engagements.
I continued to attend and participate at Mass, as well as attend the weekly prayer breakfasts at the governor’s mansion. As it became abundantly clear to those citizens in the state who were opposed to my stance in support of unborn children, and that I did not waiver in my conviction that abortion was a violence against women — often forced upon them as a way of covering the evidence of abuse and violence that specifically targeted women, I developed new friends and certain enemies.
My Catholic faith teaches that life begins at conception. I am grateful that this foundation was not something I doubted, and I had also seen much concrete scientific research and evidence on this subject since my youth. Thus, I had continued to question the varied ambiguities and conflicts in the laws of Louisiana and other jurisdictions, including international treaties of which I learned while a visiting law student at Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C.. I disagreed with rape and other exceptions for abortion, and implored lawmakers in both the state and federal realms to consider being in line with the Church teachings that life begins at conception across the board, and to nurture and value that life. With my strong convictions, I was a horror to many degreed women, particularly others I encountered from a legal education environment. But I was blessed to have good professors beside me who were Catholic priests and, of course, many others who considered life and the legal rights of a human to be paramount.
When challenged as to whether I would have a child if I became pregnant due to rape, I said “Yes.” This foundation is a blessing because abortion was not something I would have considered for myself. Where is the logic in doing further violence to a woman who has been violated by rape? The consequences for a female victim are just not going to be the same for a male victim of sexual assault because of biology: men just do not get pregnant. Then, the insult to me was “would I impose a rape baby on some other rape
victim?” A high ranking woman attorney in Louisiana asked me that! Women can be very vicious toward one another, unfortunately.
Then, I became that victim — I was raped. I thought that I had fought off my rapist successfully, though there was so much blood and I was in pain. Afterward, I learned that I was pregnant from this attack. I could not believe it! I had a baby growing inside of me and I was going to be a mother from rape. Still in a lot of pain and very physically sick from this pregnancy, I endeavored to pray with my unborn baby, who I knew with certainty had a soul. My rapist learned that I was pregnant and attacked me again, pointing a gun at my belly, threatening to “kill it too” if I did not drop the cases against him with the District Attorney. I would pray, “Please, Jesus, spare my child’s life!”
Many people pressured me to have an abortion because I was raped. And many of them called themselves pro-life and attended churches! There was a lot to suffer as an unwed mother in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I was told not to follow my doctor’s orders or to fall down some stairs because “a miscarriage will get rid of it, which is not a sin!” I’d pray even more: “Lord Jesus Christ, God our Father, Son and Holy Spirit, thank you for this precious life. Please knock these Pharisees down with a lightning bolt, and protect us, and make these fools stop calling my child ‘it’!”
God has walked with me and my child since conception, and continues to carry us in His arms. Throughout this experience, my fellow Vincentians from our Society of St. Vincent de Paul defended and walked beside me and my child who was yet to be born. So did my parish priest and nuns in Baton Rouge. The Missionaries of Charity — Mother Theresa’s nuns, were there and prayed for me
and my child, even allowing us to join with them in prayer for adoration.
The rapist violated the injunction for protection, and continued to assault me — I even had to climb out onto the roof of my home through a window one time when he burglarized my home while I was pregnant with my child. Nevertheless, I continued to refuse to seek an abortion, nor did I want to give my child up for adoption. I wanted to raise my child and love my child. I consecrated my unborn child to the Infant Jesus of Prague, whose shrine I visited while studying international law in the Czech Republic. I had to be on bed-rest in my pregnancy so that I would not lose my child, which was scoffed at by many because I was trying to protect and nurture my unborn child conceived when I was brutally raped. “Why not just stop taking the progesterone?” — which helped nurture my pregnancy — “and call it ‘God’s will’?” How sick is this, Lord Jesus?! At least people I knew who called themselves pro-choice supported my decision to continue my pregnancy and raise this child as a single mother. My parish priest did not abandon me, and
even when a well-meaning lay person wanted me to marry a gay man she knew so that I would not be “unwed.” Some people were not only misguided, but also downright cruel.
“Lord Jesus — God, you are a father to the fatherless. God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit carry my child and me through this!” I had to fight so hard with other allegedly pro-life people about how this is not my child’s crime, that my child is not a rapist or inhuman “product” and that I was clear that I was going to raise my child. I had called maternity homes and was horrified that they would only help if you were a pregnant minor child, or often they were unable to help provide lodging for a pregnant woman who already had other children. Or, they would only help the pregnant mother if she signed an adoption contract. It seemed cruel on so many levels. I grew concerned about forced adoption contracts in a situation of duress and/or if the mother who was pregnant was
herself a minor child, because it was clear to me that this is taking place, along with forced abortions. I was not going to be bullied into giving my baby up for adoption, nor starved into submission.
Finally, I called the Diocese of Baton Rouge, and was free to enter their home for pregnant mothers that did not require an adoption contract. As the abused women’s shelter was often full to capacity and could not accommodate my medical issues that arose due to the pregnancy and the stress of repeated retaliation stalking and violence from my rapist, this option worked best. This was only the beginning of the sacrifices to be made. Yet, I can declare that my child is so worth every moment of these things which I have shared. My child makes none of the ugliness or ignorance matter! I have walked through fire gladly, and will continue to do so, whenever and wherever in life.
I am a rape survivor. I am a mother. I am a beloved daughter of the King of Kings. I am blessed!
You can see her story and picture: http://www.rebeccakiessling.com/PregnantByRape.html