Jan 252010

Caleb Kiessling was only 3 when he began to ponder one of the most heatedly debated political issues in the United States: The effects of abortion on unborn children.

His mother, Rebecca, a pro-life activist who addressed students Monday night in the Lory Student Center, told him he would have to wait until he was older for an explanation.

Some time later, Caleb was horrified to learn that it kills them, the elder Kiessling told the Collegian in an interview before her lecture to the crowd of about 125 of CSU community members.

Kiessling, 41, told the CSU audience her story, which began with two back-alley abortion practices her mother visited during the pregnancy, but couldn’t follow through because of dirty conditions and shady circumstances.

The second time her mother visited a clinic, she was blindfolded by a foul-mouthed practitioner who made the experience so uncomfortable that she was forced to back out of the procedure.

“For me, this was my near-death experience,” Kiessling told the crowd.

It wasn’t until she was 18 that Kiessling, who was adopted just after birth, found out that she was nearly aborted.

She had requested her birth records to obtain information about her biological parents, but they didn’t include her mother’s name. The most specific information about her father was that he was Caucasian and of large build. Investigating further, Kiessling found that she was conceived in rape and petitioned to contact her mother, who remained unnamed because of her victim status.

The message she brought to campus, though, largely fell to an already-converted choir of nurses and students involved in pro-life extra-curricular activity.

A number of only pro-choice audience members sat dispersed throughout the crowd.

But the only outspoken one was a student named Ethan Cathey, a junior accounting major, who stood in the back of the room argued with Kiessling during a question and answer session after the lecture, saying: “You’re blinded by your Republican bias,” in reference to the ever-brewing politicization of the debate.

Kiessling countered Cathey’s argument, saying that the palpable debate keeps swirling because it remains mired in statistics, and she hopes to bring an accessible narrative of how abortion affects people to the table.

“People don’t put a face on abortion, they see it as a concept,” she said. “I do hope I can put a voice, face, a story to this issue.”

The lecture before the question and answer session with a standing ovation after Kiessling advised the audience to become activists themselves.

“… I hope you will go out and do the same,” she said.

A DVD documenting Kiessling’s story is available on her Web site at

Staff writer Lexie Wissler can be reached at

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