I Don't Make Deals
I have written before about my journey to become a no exceptions prolifer. I have never shared this story publicly, but I think the time is right.
In 2011, I worked very hard to make sure that our “ultrasound law” was passed in Texas. It was a good bill and I was proud to support it. It did have a rape exception, but I figured that wasn’t really a big deal since there are so few babies aborted that are conceived in rape. I mean…it’s less than 1%…let’s just work to save the 99%, right?
The bill was passed and shortly after that I had a one on one conversation with Rebecca Kiessling. Rebecca was conceived in a very violent rape against her birth mother. Even though I know she probably wanted to wring my neck because I supported these discriminatory bills, she was so patient with me…explaining the nuances of being a no exceptions prolifer. After several conversations with her, a lot of prayer, and a lot of reading, I realized that I had been wrong. I realized that to support a bill with a rape exception would be devaluing those who had already been so greatly marginalized.
So, I decided to do something about it. I had been such a huge voice in getting our ultrasound bill passed…I wanted to make it right and remove the rape exception. I made the decision that removing the rape exception would be my only priority in the 2013 session (Texas only has legislative session every other year).
I went back to one of the key legislators behind the bill (who I was very close to) and told him that my ONLY goal this legislative session was to close that rape exception.
His response was, “That isn’t going to happen, Abby. You need to find something else. Deals were made to several different politicians to get that passed and the deals included exceptions for rape. I won’t go back on those deals. It would be bad business for me.” Wow. So we make deals on the backs of babies conceived in rape. I sat there with tears in my eyes. I couldn’t believe that I had fallen for the idea that one day we would “go back” to protect them all. That had been a total lie.
So, I thought bigger. I said to myself…okay, then let’s go after the exceptions in the Hyde amendment. I went to the Hill and made some appointments with several prolife legislators. EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM told me that they would NEVER try to repeal the exceptions in the Hyde Amendment. One of them actually told me that if he went after that, it would be an “election killer” for him. I had one female legislator tell me that closing any rape exceptions would be “unkind” to women who had been raped. Seriously?? Unkind? Unkind for who? It is certainly not unkind for these unborn babies. And it can’t be unkind for a woman who has conceived in rape to have equal rights and information as women who have not conceived in rape.
So that was it for me. I knew that we had to have clean bills go in and clean bills come out…because our politicians will NEVER allow rape exceptions to be closed. To be perfectly honest, they don’t want them closed.
All the time I hear, “We will just pass this bill and then we will go back for the 1%.” Really now? How many times have people “gone back” for those babies? 5 times? 10 times? Nope. NEVER. We have never gone back. And apparently, we never will because of those pesky deals that were made on the lives of these marginalized children. The people who keep saying that we will go back are the people who have no ability to actually go back and close the gap. The only people who can do that are our politicians, and they won’t do it as long as we don’t demand it. We have already told them over and over again that these children aren’t as important.
So, how do we get our politicians to stop including the rape exception? Well, first, the prolife movement has to take a stand…a strong one. We have to stop accepting these rape exceptions and stand against any bills where they are included. And then we need to tell these politicians that IF THEY PUT RAPE EXCEPTIONS IN BILLS OR IF THEY VOTE FOR THEM, then we will vote them out. We need to tell them that they will lose our endorsement. WE have to stand strong and hold them accountable.
You see, they keep doing it because we keep allowing it.
If the prolife movement would take a stand against these bills with exceptions, they would think twice about adding them in the first place. If we said to these politicians, “If you put in a rape exception, we will make sure this is your last term,” they would stop. But we don’t! We just roll over and accept them!!
I am an incrementalist…but not if a bill is discriminatory against a particular group of people. When people give me the “burning building” analogy, my answer is simple. My goal is to prevent the fire from starting so that we don’t have to choose whose life is valuable. If you ran into a burning building to save children, would you only pick the ones that had a certain hair color or were a certain ethnicity? Because that is what you are doing when you support these bills. You are picking and choosing who has value and who is worth saving.
Would you support a bill that said only white babies should be protected from abortion? Would you support a bill that said abortions would be performed on all babies unless their parents are college educated? Would you support a bill that only protected babies from abortion as long as they are male? No? Why not? Because that would be sexist? Because that would be racist? Because that would be discriminatory? Yes, you are right. These bills are just as discriminatory as bills that allow babies in rape to be killed.
You may say, “But Abby, could that actually work?” Why yes, yes it can. States like Georgia and Michigan has NEVER passed a bill with an exception. Why? Because their legislators know that if they even suggest that an exception should be added to a bill, they will lose their endorsement. It can work. It does work. But it won’t happen unless we actually start acting like we are seriously prolife and take a stand!
One of our children is the product of an abusive situation. I can’t tell you how painful it is, as his mother, to scroll through my Facebook newsfeed and see so many of my “prolife friends” supporting bills that marginalize his life…that say that his life does not have equal value. Because when I hold him and look at his face, I see that he is destined for something incredibly special. He is equally human, equally valuable, equally worthy of life, and deserves equal protection. And most importantly, he is equally precious in the eyes of God.
And while I hurt for my own child, I can’t even imagine how painful this is for people like Rebecca Kiessling. To see her friends support a bill that says her life isn’t valuable?? I can’t even fathom that type of hurt and betrayal.
So, the question is this. Would you support a bill that only allowed white babies to be aborted? If you would not, then you should stop discriminating against children conceived in rape. Say no to rape exceptions. Stand up, have courage and stop accepting the exception.
“WHAT DO YOU THINK? IF ANY MAN HAS A HUNDRED SHEEP, AND ONE OF THEM HAS GONE ASTRAY, DOES HE NOT LEAVE THE NINETY-NINE ON THE MOUNTAINS AND GO AND SEARCH FOR THE ONE THAT IS STRAYING? IF IT TURNS OUT THAT HE FINDS IT, TRULY I SAY TO YOU, HE REJOICES OVER IT MORE THAN OVER THE NINETY-NINE WHICH HAVE NOT GONE ASTRAY. SO IT IS NOT THE WILL OF YOUR FATHER WHO IS IN HEAVEN THAT ONE OF THESE LITTLE ONES PERISH.” MATTHEW 18:12-14
To hear more stories from those conceived in rape/incest, visit Save The 1.
By Abby Johnson, Planned Parenthood Director turned pro-life advocate.