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Handling hard cases: Rape

June 2016
By: Rebecca Kiessling

Having been involved in pro-life ministry since 1995 (including serving on the board of one pregnancy center, on the advisory board of another, and speaking at dozens of PCC fundraisers every year) I feel I can be of help to centers in my area of expertise – rape, incest, and fetal abnormalities.

1. Screening

First of all, I advise PCC directors to screen volunteers and board members to make certain they hold to a “no exceptions, no compromise” position on abortion for rape, incest, and the health of the baby. Time and again I’ve heard from directors who were surprised to learn not all their volunteers are 100% pro-life when the issue came up at a critical time. I even heard of an instance at a conference of a fairly new PCC founder and director sharing with another director that she supported the rape exception. She did not, in fact, even believe abortion should be illegal. 

Related video
Abortion Exceptions Explained: Health of the Mother
on YouTube, by Students for Life 

Many people are personally pro-life but politically pro-choice because they don't think abortion should be criminal. Many volunteers and donors are drawn to PCC ministry because they don't like abortion, but they've never been educated on the so-called hard cases in the abortion debate. It's therefore necessary to rigorously screen candidates for volunteer or board position, and spend time during training sessions role-playing conversations about these difficult situations.

2. Training

Second, equip your 100% pro-life volunteers and staff on how to defend the child conceived in rape, or the child whose parents are given a fetal abnormality diagnosis. They can watch Conceived in Rape & Other Exceptions, a one-hour documentary on this issue. We have lots of other videos and testimonies available at as well.

If you can think of a unique hard case, we probably already have a story on it, so please search our website and blog, Or reach out to me via email

Use my pamphlet – Conceived in Rape: A Story of Hope – with clients in your center. It’s available from Heritage House ‘76. We’re also developing a brochure series with Heritage House '76 to further address these cases. 

Once babies are born, there are steps women can to take to prevent rapists from assuming parental rights. Become familiar with your state's laws regarding parental rights and sexual assault:

National Conference of State Legislatures  

Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network

3. Support & mentoring

Third, feel free to refer women to us who are pregnant by rape, or post-abortive from rape. We can connect them to other women with very similar stories who can mentor them -- whether they chose to parent, are birthmothers, or post-abortive. 

We currently have a database of over 350 children who were conceived in rape and/or incest, mothers from rape, birthmothers from rape, women who are post-abortive after rape and now regret aborting, or who miscarried after rape. Additionally, we have hundreds in our Save The 1 – Carry to Birth group. The one thing we hear over and over is how alone someone felt until finally meeting others with similar backgrounds, and how life-changing it is to have such an incredibly supportive network. We have a confidential email support group, as well as an email pro-life activism group. We also have private Facebook groups organized by state or region, or by category, such as the Save The 1 Birthmoms.

4. Education

Finally, please consider inviting a Save The 1 speaker at a fundraising event so your donors can be inspired and educated regarding the "hard cases." the national speakers listed on our website are trained, vetted speakers from all over the U.S. We also have regional speakers. 

As with any speaker you schedule, be sure to ask for a sample video and references. Not everyone with a great story or expertise on the subject of abortion is a gifted speaker. Make sure they know how to tie in their testimony to the work of your center.

We’re available as a resource, so please don't hesitate to contact us for assistance. 

Rebecca Kiessling is an attorney, wife, mother of five, and international pro-life speaker who shares her story of having been conceived in rape and nearly aborted in two back-alley abortions. She's the founder and president of Save The 1, co-founder of Hope After Rape Conception, co-founder of Embryo Defense, on the executive committee of Personhood Alliance, and serves on the advisory board of Crossroads Pregnancy Center in Auburn Hills, Michigan.

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