Divisive abortion debate has potential to derail Romney's run
But isn’t it cruel to force a woman to carry the child of a man who violated her? In the voluminous discussion of the rape exception, the well-being of the victim is seldom considered. “I am not ‘the rapist’s baby’. He didn’t even know I existed,” Kiessling snaps back. “Our mission is to seek to protect these women.”
Kiessling’s website estimates that there are 32,000 rape-related pregnancies in the US each year, though she believes the figure is higher. She says up to one-quarter of those pregnancies are aborted, and she wants to see that stopped.
Todd Akin’s allusion to “legitimate rape” is “totally irrelevant for someone who is 100 per cent pro-life,” says Kiessling.
“It’s when you carve rape exceptions into the law that you have to have a standard for determining the veracity of the woman’s story. As long as we have rape exceptions, we will always have abortion on demand in this country.”
It was Kiessling who converted the Texas governor Rick Perry to the no-exceptions policy.
But when she met Romney five years ago “he was not tender-hearted like governor Perry.”
She claims Romney told her that his wife was almost aborted, but she has never heard him repeat that story, before or since. “He said, ‘I am pro-life. How could I ever have been pro-choice?’ ”
Kiessling says Republicans like Romney who oppose abortion but approve exceptions “are malleable; I just want to educate them”.
Other Republicans are less understanding. The American Right to Life Action group this week launched a website called RepublicansAgainstRomney.com, which documents Romney’s past positions on abortion, gay rights and universal healthcare, and concludes that “Obama is the lesser of two evils”.
Ann Stone, who heads Republicans for Choice, deplores the fact that Todd Akin’s remark and the ensuing controversy over rape exceptions “doesn’t help the campaign connect with women voters”.
She tells a different story involving Mitt Romney; that he had a cousin who died at the age of 21 after a back alley abortion.
Stone says surveys show that 71 per cent of Republicans believe women should have the right to decide what happens to their own body. She interprets that to mean the party is secretly pro-choice.