A woman who was conceived in an act of violence against her mother has a message for people who think there should be exceptions in laws regulating abortion.
“I did not deserve the death penalty for the crime of my biological father,” Rebecca Kiessling cried out during the MOBirthday Celebration Rally in the State Capitol Rotunda.
The June 7 event marked the birthdays for all of the babies who will get to be born in Missouri, thanks to the passage of HB 126, known as the Missouri Stands for the Unborn Act.
“Thank you for defending life without discrimination, without exception, without compromise,” said Ms. Kiessling, president of Save The 1 (www.savethe1.com) an international organization that advocates for pre-born babies with prenatal diagnoses or who were conceived in rape.
She was among the pro-life advocates who gathered to thank and pray for the people who made HB 126 possible, as well as a call for continued vigilance.
“We have won a battle, so we thank God for the victory and we celebrate,” stated Zina Hackworth, founder of More Rebellious Members, a pro-life outreach to African American pastors. “But the war is far from over. So we celebrate today and we pick up our armor again tomorrow.”
HB 126, passed by the General Assembly a day before the end of its 2019 session and signed by Governor Mike Parson May 24, prohibits abortion in this state once a pre-born baby’s heartbeat can be detected.
With modern technology, that could be as early as eight weeks after conception.
“Sanctuary of life”
The new law also:
Portions of the law went into effect immediately. The rest of it is scheduled to go into effect Aug. 28.
Opponents have pledged to fight the new law in court, delay its implementation and ultimately convince voters to overturn it at the polls.
“If they get their way, birthday candles will be snuffed out permanently,” stated Deacon Samuel Lee, executive director of Campaign Life Missouri.
“The fate of thousands of pregnant women in Missouri and their unborn children is at stake,” he said. “Pray that these referendum attempts are a failure, and do all you can to make sure that that prayer comes true.”
In an interview, Deacon Tyler McClay, executive director of the Missouri Catholic Conference (MCC), spoke of HB 126’s passage as part of a growing effort to change the narrative on abortion in this country.
In recent years, the courts have given states latitude restricting prohibiting abortion at viability — the point at which the baby could live on his or her own outside the womb.
“What we’re trying to do is convince people of the sanctity and dignity of human life inside the womb, even before viability,” said Deacon McClay.
He believes it’s significant that while some states are passing laws taking away regulations and increasing access to abortion, a significant handful are moving things in the other direction.
“You have 20 percent of the states in this country saying, ‘we have a compelling interest in protecting life in the womb, before viability,’” he said. “Science is showing us that this is more than a clump of cells.”
The MCC, public policy agency of Missouri’s four Roman Catholic dioceses, supported the passage of HB 126 and is calling on state officials to defend it against any legal challenges.
“The passage of HB 126 is a historic moment for the pro-life community in Missouri,” he stated.
Calls for vigilance
The MOBirthdays Rally was organized by team P.L.A.Y., a coalition of Missourians committed to ending abortion in Missouri through prayer, legislation, action and “you” — the people of this state.
“When all of God’s children P.L.A.Y. together, abortion will end,” stated Kathy Forck, a member of St. Andrew parish in Holts Summit.
She and her husband Mike are servant leaders of Team P.L.A.Y. and of the Columbia 40 Days for Life Campaign.
Jacinto Florence of Students for Life America urged the audience to use the momentum of this victory to move closer toward an abortion-free America.
“We are the pro-life generation,” she said. “Not only that, we are also the post-Roe generation. We are not going to stop fighting for life until every single state in our nation is abortion-free.”
Nationally-syndicated radio host Stacy Washington read a letter from Gov. Parson, stating that Missouri is now one of the most pro-life states in the country.
In the letter, the governor urged everyone to remain vigilant, take a bold stand for life and celebrate the successes that are yet to come.
Ms. Washington said the victory already belongs to God, but people must stand with Him without wavering.
“I know how far we have come in reducing the number of abortions,” she said. “Our prayers are being answered. We must not stop until we have seen the end of abortion in America.”
With God’s help
Deacon Lee thanked the 133 lawmakers who voted for H.B. 126 and Gov. Parson for signing it.
He asked for prayers for wisdom and courage for the people now charged with defending the new law.
He commended the strong women who are the foundation and backbone of the pro-life movement.
Dominican Father Reginald Wolford, associate pastor of St. Thomas More Newman Center parish in Columbia, led the praying the Daily Prayer to End Abortion, by Father Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life.
Father Jeremy Secrist, pastor of St. Peter parish in Jefferson City, offered the closing prayer.
Calling to mind the time Jesus spent safe in His mother’s womb, Fr. Secrist asked God to bless all children who are waiting to be born.
“We ask You to save them from the danger of abortion; to protect them from any violence against that precious life which You — and You alone — form and knit together in their mothers’ womb,” he prayed.
He prayed for all mothers and fathers to be given the strength, love and necessary virtues to raise, form and educate their children according to God’s design.
He prayed for courage, strength and wisdom for all government leaders “to defend all whom You create in Your very own image and likeness” and to help build up “a society that is truly good, united, kind, just and deserving of the blessings which You bestow.”
After the rally, the people adjourned for birthday cake and to sign a thank-you card to the governor.