Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of April 7, 2003
Child of rape tells the pro-life story
U.S. lawyer discovered faith in her roots search
By ART BABYCH
Canadian Catholic News
Conceived in a rape at knifepoint 33 years ago and now the mother of adopted children, American pro-life speaker Rebecca Wasser Kiessling is herself pregnant.
She and her husband, Robert - "A godly man of character who honoured me throughout our courtship despite the horrible mistakes of the past" - are expecting their first child Aug. 1.
Patting her stomach gently, Kiessling introduced Corrina to a large crowd at an annual breakfast at Holy Redeemer Church March 29, and received loud applause in return.
A convert to Catholicism, a family law lawyer and spokesperson for Feminists for Life, Kiessling has become the poster-woman for children conceived by rapists or through incest, telling her touching life-story an average of 50 times a year at schools, churches and other locations. As well, she has appeared on ABC's Good Morning America and CNN's Talk Back Live, and her story, "My father was a rapist," was told in Glamour Magazine in August 1999.
Kiessling challenges the belief among some that an abortion is acceptable for women who have conceived through a rape. "Whenever you identify yourself as pro-choice or whenever you make that exception, what that means is you could stand before me, look me in the eye and say to me, 'I think that your mother should have been able to abort you.' That is the reality with which I lived. It hurt."
Kiessling sees her task as putting "a face to the issue," and does it by telling her tragic but redeemed life story wherever she goes.
Adopted by a Jewish family shortly after her birth, Kiessling attended the musical based on Little Orphan Annie, which made her wonder about her biological parents.
Unable to petition for information because of her age, she had to wait until she was 18 to apply. Kiessling said she was "just devastated" when she learned she had been born out of a brutal rape. "I recall thinking 'Who would love me and have a family with me because, after all, socially deviant behaviour is genetic, right? That's what I had believed.'"
Questions plaguing her, Kiessling contacted her birth mother almost 15 years ago, who "filled me in with some horrific details," she said. The mother, a petite woman, was on her way to a grocery store at night when her rapist, "jumped out of the bushes with a knife, abducted her, dragged her out to a field, cut open her clothes with the knife and then basically brutally raped her every way possible," said Kiessling. "And that was how I was conceived."
"Who would love me and have a family with me because, after all, socially deviant behaviour is genetic, right?"
- Rebecca Wasser Kiessling
The mother said she had made two attempts to get an abortion by "back-alley" abortionists, but rejected them because of filthy conditions. She managed to find another " more respected" abortionist.
But "the worst snowstorm of the century hit " the night that the abortion was to have taken place and the roads were blocked for weeks.
Her mother, knowing that an abortion would be more expensive and more dangerous because she was entering the second trimester, decided instead to give birth.
Devastated by the conditions of her birth, Kiessling said "I had this huge hole in my heart that I wanted so much to be filled," she said. In one abusive relationship, her boyfriend broke her jaw, and left a front tooth dangling.
"That's when I hit rock bottom and that's when God called me back to him," she said. Kiessling went through the RCIA program. "It's incredible how he (God) has used me since," she said.
"The greatest years of my life have been the last few," said Kiessling. "My birth mother was included in wedding invitations and she was walked down the aisle at our wedding as one of the mothers," she said.
Since they were married about five years ago, Kiessling and her husband have adopted three children.
Kiessling is putting her legal career on hold while she prepares for the arrival of their biological child. She also hopes to write an autobiography.