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Pro-life campaigner Rebecca Kiessling to speak at events across Northern Ireland

By Claire McNeilly

Published 10/11/2016

Rebecca Kiessling is coming to Belfast
Rebecca Kiessling is coming to Belfast
Bernie Smyth

The world's most high-profile anti-abortion campaigner is coming to Northern Ireland for the first time to bolster morale among pro-life groups.

Rebecca Kiessling - a child of rape whose mother has Ulster ancestry - has accepted an invitation from Precious Life boss Bernie Smyth to undertake a number of engagements across the province.

The successful lawyer and mother-of-five will participate in a debate with Northern Ireland Human Rights Chief Commissioner Les Allamby at Queen's University and will give presentations in a number of schools.

Mrs Smyth said Ms Kiessling was also awaiting authorisation to hold a speaking event at Stormont during her five-day trip here before she travels on to Scotland.

"She will be in Belfast from November 13 until November 18 and she'll be doing a number of speaking engagements in schools," she added.

"She'll also be participating in a debate with the Chief Human Rights Commissioner at Queen's next Thursday, which we're really looking forward to."

Ms Kiessling's visit coincides with a legal case in which a Northern Irish teenager has taken the NHS to the Supreme Court over the Government's refusal to fund abortions for women from here who travel to England for terminations.

It also comes at a time when Stormont has never been under more pressure to change its current stance on abortion, which is only available in hospitals here if there is a direct threat to the mother's life.

More than 830 women travelled to English hospitals and clinics from here in 2015 to have terminations, all of whom had to raise the money to pay for the procedure themselves.

Ms Kiessling, now 46, grew up blissfully unaware that she was conceived through rape - although she always knew she was not being raised by her biological parents.

The horrific truth only emerged when she turned 18 and tracked down her birth mother Joann, who confirmed that her father was a rapist who was never caught.

Her story has inspired many people, but her unwavering "no abortion under any circumstances" standpoint has made her a highly controversial and divisive figure.

It was her image on billboards outside Belfast's Laganside Court last year when a judge ruled that Northern Ireland's law on abortion did not comply with the European Convention on Human Rights in cases of fatal foetal abnormality or sexual crime.

In an exclusive interview with the Belfast Telegraph earlier this year, Ms Kiessling, an international speaker, defended her uncompromising views on abortion.

"Children like me who are conceived in rape have every bit as much value as everyone else and we deserve to be protected," she said.

"This is a human rights issue. I did not deserve to die for the crimes of my biological father. What kind of civilisation punishes a child for someone else's crime? That's draconian, and unjust."

Ms Kiessling and her businessman husband Robert have five children - Caleb (16), 14-year-old Kyler, Carina (12), Coralie (11) and Contessa (8). Their adopted baby girl Cassie died when she was just over a month old.

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