If you haven’t been following the news, a Sanilac County judge granted custody to a convicted rapist for a child he conceived following the 2008 abduction, torture, and rape of a young girl. Years later the mother was trying to get some federal aid for her son when her story turned into a legal battle against her attacker. Thankfully Tuesday the same judge who ruled for joint legal custody overturned his decision.
This is something that should have never been a problem to begin with, especially because in Michigan we already have a law on the books called the Rape Survivor Child Custody Act. This law was put into place in 2016 to allow rape survivors to terminate the parental rights of their attacker, even if the rapist was not convicted. A mother can go to court and terminate the rapists parental rights using a "clear and convincing evidence" standard, the same used for child abuse or neglect in custody hearings
Instead of focusing on the victory for this rape survivor and mother, the pro-abortion news website Rewire attacked the lawyer who took her case. Rewire writer Imani Gandy posted a story bashing her lawyer, Rebecca Kiessling, for also being a prolife speaker.
Rebecca herself was conceived in rape and offered to represent the mother pro bono. Raised in a loving adoptive household, Rebecca learned the truth about her biological parents and has since become an outspoken supporter of life. She has long stood up for the rights of children conceived in rape and rape survivors. She even created an organization dedicated to telling their stories and advocating for their rights called Save the 1.
Gandy tried to discredit Rebecca, arguing that Rebecca tried to make this case about something other than the mother's situation. She said that Rebecca’s defense of life is built on a straw man argument and that all mothers deserve to have the choice to abort their babies. Gandy doesn't even consider the effect that abortion might have on a woman who has already gone through something as traumatic as being sexually assaulted. Gandy even suggested that Rebecca pushes her beliefs on women using "junk science." In reality, many women pregnant following a sexual assault don't want abortions, and it's not "junk science."
Gandy gets the whole story wrong for one important reason, however. The mother in this case called us asking for help. She didn't call Rewire, which holds itself out as the champion for justice and women's health, and speaks of us as some den of crazed ideologues. When we got the call, the first person who came to mind was Rebecca. Rebecca was perfectly suited to know how to move forward to protect this mother and her son, because she's "been there, done that." Thankfully Rebecca decided to provide legal help herself and won the case. She did generate media coverage in this case, but it was sorely needed to let the prosecutor and judge know that there would be consequences if they continued to sleepwalk through this mother's case, delivering her son into the hands of a rapist.
Ultimately all Rebecca did was give this mother the opportunity to be heard—an opportunity she sought us out for. There's no need to "beware" of that, Rewire. Where's your nonjudgmental support for the choice of the woman in this case? Isn't that what Rewire stands for, affirming every choice a woman makes? We'll guess that Gandy won't want to hear what the mother chooses to say after this ordeal is finally over.
Rebecca has been a strong and tireless advocate for woman who have gone through the traumatic experience of rape. Her hard work has been able to bring together people from all over the world and helped get legislators around the country to face situation like this mother in Sanilac County experienced. Her selflessness to win a victory for a young woman and her son pro-bono should be commended, not dismissed.