You Want Me To Forgive Who?

This is a copy of the speech I gave yesterday at The Courage Conference. I hope it is a blessing to those who read it. 
Good Afternoon. My name is Rowena. It is a privilege to be here today. Let us begin with prayer.
I would like to start with a story of a young man, sentenced for crimes he
didn’t commit. Here is a list of his perpetrators:
A.) A friend betrayed him
B.) The rest of his friends abandoned him.
C.) Religious and Community leaders conspire against him to murder him.
D.) Government officials use the legal system to sentence him to death, knowing he was innocent.
What did man say about forgiveness?

As we continue our time together, we will explore how forgiveness is the day to freedom from the strongholds that bind us tightly. We will discover the Author of Forgiveness and His commands to follow in His footsteps.

You might be wondering if I know what its is like to be told the I must forgive. My life story is one of redemption and forgiveness. Let me share with you parts of my story. I will start with a list of sinful actions that I have had to ask forgiveness, followed by a list of sins committed against me.
Here is the list of my sinful actions for which I have had to confess and ask to be forgiven of:
>Being a sinner in general. My salvation was at age 5.
>Hating my dad for abusing me.
>Hating my childhood mom because she didn’t protect me.
>Hating my real mom because she didn’t believe or protect me.
>Hating my step-father because he raped me.
>Being unfaithful to my husband by having sexual conversations with
another man online.
>Giving in to same-sex attraction desires by participating in inappropriate
behavior with other women while being married to my husband.
>Threatening to leave my husband and children in anger.

Here is a list of the sinful actions of others against me which I have extended forgiveness:
>The first 10 years of my life consisted of sexual abuse by my dad, older brother and uncle.
>At age 4, it was revealed that my older sister was actually my mom.
>At age 10, I was told the truth of my dad also being my
grandfather because he raped his daughter and got her pregnant.
>My dad was a pastor of a church.
>When I was 10, we escape my dad’s grip and move to a small town in
West Texas.
>During ages of 10 and 11, sexual abuse started by my future step-father.
>The pastor of the church we were going to, blamed me for my future
step-father molesting me, saying that I had a demon that made men
molest me.
>Molestation turns to rape and all types of sexual assaults at the hands of
of my step-father from ages 10-16.
>Raped at age 20 by a stranger, in my home, while my husband away for
military training.
>After my 30th birthday, I found out that my husband struggled with porn
This list isn’t complete, but it give you a glimpse of the path of forgiveness in my life.

I share this list with you to give you a foundation to help answer the question, “You want me to forgive ‘Who’?”.

I will demonstrate four key points on forgiveness. The are:.
1. How Christ extends forgiveness on the cross and commands us to forgive too.
2.What forgiveness is not and what it is.
3. Name the “Who” (and “What”)
4. Practical way to work through forgiveness (Pray, forgive, bless)

To move forward, let’s start wth the young man in the introduction.
Main Point 1. He had plenty of wounds inflicted on Him. Have you guessed who this person is? It is our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Here are verses from the Bible about forgiveness:
A. Mark 11:25
And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.
B. Matthew 6:14-15
14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
These verses are commands from Jesus. He commanded forgiveness, but do we
see Him forgive? YES!!! Let us look at the Scriptures. Luke 23:33-35 says,
“33 And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. 34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”[a] And they cast lots to divide his garments. 35 And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!”
He forgave them in the middle of causing him harm.

Now that we have examined Christ forgiveness and His command to forgive…

Main Point 2. Let us dig deeper into what forgiveness is not and what it is
A. Forgiveness isn’t saying that sin is okay or allowing it to continue.
Jesus died for the forgiveness of sin, so the sin did happen and was wrong. It was so wrong, that Jesus shed His blood for it on the cross. Ephesians 1:7 says, “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,” Other verses that speak to Christ forgiveness through the shedding of His blood are Hebrews 9:22 and 1Peter 3:18a.
Forgiveness comes after repentance. Repentance is “turning from sin.” Mark 1:4-“John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.”
B. Forgiveness isn’t waiting to receive an apology. Refer to Luke 23:33-35 and
Jesus forgave having no apology extended to Him.
C. Forgiveness is not forgetting.
example: How many of you have heard “Forgive and forget!”? I have
heard this from family members who harmed me. I have forgiven them,
but I cannot forget.
D. Forgiving doesn’t stop the pain.
example: I can tell you that the pain of my sexual assaults is very real.
Feeling pain from your memories doesn’t mean that you haven’t forgiven. I will discuss forgiveness and painful memories in a session tomorrow.
E. Forgiveness isn’t trusting again quickly or reconciliation.
example 1: I forgave my father for sexually abusing me. Should I let him
meet my children and hug them? NO WAY!! There is not trust there.
example 2: My older brother molested me. I have forgiven him, but
do I have to have a trusting relationship with him? Nope. I can be kind
and love him with the love of Christ and my relationship ends there.
F. Forgiveness and Justice
1. In talking about forgiveness, justice is not neglected. Although I
forgave my abusers and rapists, I pressed charges on them and
pursued justice through the legal system.
2. Ultimately, justice will come through Christ Jesus. The person
who you forgive will either come to faith in Christ and justice will
be met at the cross of calvary, or they will receive the ultimate justice
in eternal separation from God in hell for being unrepentant.
G. Forgiveness is an ongoing event.
1. Sometimes you forgive someone and they keep on sinning, so you
continue to forgive. (Remember Jesus said seventy times seven.) Now if
you or your loved ones are in danger, remove yourself(s) from danger.
2. Other times, you forgive a person or persons, but then memories or
triggers happen. Forgiveness may be needed again to block bitterness
from taking root.
example: My husband puts is hand on my knee when he is driving.
All of a sudden I remember my step-father hurting me. I quickly
pray a prayer to forgive him in that memory. I release him to God
and pray for his salvation.

Main Point 3. Where are you on the path of forgiveness?
A. New-never herd about forgiveness before.
B. Informed-You have heard about forgiveness but haven’t
put it into action
C. Starting to apply the knowledge of forgiveness to your life.
D. Been forgiven and following Christ command to forgive.
E. Walking in freedom.

Main Point 4. Name the “Who.” (and “What”)
A. As you have listened to me talk, “who” came to mind?
B. What was the circumstance?
example: I choose to forgive my dad for raping my mom and getting her
pregnant with me, for causing me to have a huge hole in my heart,
and for sexually abusing me too. I pray that he finds faith in you,
Jesus, for his salvation.

Thank you so much for your attention.
I know that this topic has been intense and painful for many of you. My heart is with you. I love you and have prayed for each of you as I prepared to speak on this topic. I can attest to the fruitfulness of forgiveness. I have been forgiven by God and my significant others for many things. It is freeing to have the debt for those wrongdoings forgiven. Because I have experience forgiveness, I know that my key points are a way of working through forgiving others. Again, these points are : 1.) Christ forgave and commands us to forgive like He did. 2.) What forgiveness is not and what its is. 3.)Where are you on the path of forgiveness? and finally, 4.) Name the “who.” (and “what).

I hope that this session has been a benefit to you on your journey with Christ. Thank you for taking the time to attend this session. If you would like more information on my story or have questions about forgiveness, I will be available after this session. You can also email me at More of my info is on the slide above.
I pray the peace Christ dwell with you.


Here LIES the Root

“Your a Jezabel. Men will have sex with you because you have a seductive spirit.” This is the verbal lie that I was told by the church leaders my mom went to for help. I had revealed to my mom that her boyfriend had sexually molested me. My mom and I had escaped the prison of ancestral use just a half a year before. All I knew was that men loved me if they touch me sexually, though I didn’t even know what “sexually” meant. From this one lie came ten to eleven more years of all manners of sexual assault from this man.

Because my mom was told that I was the problem, she didn’t protect me. I cannot answer for her choices, but I can say that I understand and have forgiven her. At that time though, I thought that she hated me and blamed me for what her future husband did and would do to me. This lie had taken root deep in my heart.

My step-father would tell me that I was beautiful and that he knew that I wanted him. What I really wanted was a dad. I wanted to be loved. I wanted to feel normal. I felt like a freak because I knew that I was conceived by incest/rape. My heart had a desperate longing to find a place where my conception didn’t define me. If my step-father could “love” me, then maybe I wasn’t a disgrace. So the lie that I was to blame played its deceitful song in my heart. My belief that this treacherous lie was somehow true continued to grow deeper into the depths of my heart. Since I wanted a daddy so bad, I must be acting seductive and wanting my step-father’s advances.

The years passed, and I felt like my step-father’s sex slave. I did whatever he demanded because if I did not, he would hurt my younger sisters and brother. He would hurt my mom. Remember, he played on my desperate need for a father. He liked for me to call him “Daddy.” All along, I believed that this sexual slavery was really my fault. I would think that maybe he was my slave and could not escape my seductive web. Isn’t it what “God’s people” said?

I would cry to God to save me from his hands. I believed that maybe God wasn’t answering because I had caused my step-father to want me like a wife. (Right now, tears burn my eyes thinking back on these thoughts. What one simple lie led me to believe breaks and angers my heart.) Today, I know and understand that what this man did was not my fault.

At age sixteen, a rather large breakthrough would happen. We started attending a different church. By God’s grace, I started attending the youth group. Why is this such a big deal? This was the catalyst that God used to deliver me from my abuse. During this year, the Lord showed me that my worth is in Him. He created me and adopted me through Christ finished work of the cross. He showed me that He was indeed my Father, my Papa. I didn’t need to seek a father’s love from any other man.This was an eye-opener and source of freedom for me. For the first time, I felt that I could possibly say no to my step-father. I tried to say “NO!” but to no avail. His advances turned into a mix of total withdrawal of any form of acceptance and love to forcible rape and sodomy. I couldn’t cry in front of him. He would tell me that I really wanted what he was doing. I would think that maybe he was right.

For roughly three months, my life was an earthly hell. The lie continued to grow and reached into every area of my life. spawning new lies based on the original lie. I tried to say no to this man, but he would tell me that I really loved him. He would say that since I knew what he wanted, I must really want what he was doing to me.

You are most likely wondering where my mom was in this mess. She was there, but I began to resent her because I really thought that she didn’t care. I just knew that if she found out, she would send me to my father’s house. I believed that she would take my step-father’s side. Why wouldn’t she? She was told that I was the one to blame; that it was my doing.

Thankfully, my years of sexual assault at the hands of my step-father were about to come to an end. The lie would take on a new life, which I will share in a later blog. My mom caught her husband attempting to have sex with me. All I thought was that I was in trouble! This was all my fault. I actually believed that if I wasn’t beautiful, that my mom and step-father would not be suffering; this was my evilness.

Even as freedom from sex slavery danced in front of me, I was a slave to the lie that I had a Jezebel spirit and was sexually seductive. This deception rooted it the core of my heart had tentacles in each area of my life. As healing would start, there is a gaping blackhole that didn’t seem to go away. This fallacy disguise itself. In the next few blogs, I will share more.

Before I go, let me leave you with some closing thoughts and questions. Lies that we are told have power to poison our lives. The only true healing from them are THE TRUTH: JESUS CHRIST! Now I am making some hard questions:

-Can you identify any lies that are poisoning your life? (If so write them down to share with a pastor, counselor and/or friend.)

-Do you see what areas in your life have been infected with the poison? (Again write down to share)

-Do you want freedom from these lies? (Write and share)

Here are some Bible Verses that have helped me when fighting against lies:

John 10:10-The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

2 Corinthians 5:17-Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

Ephesians 2:10-For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Blessings in Christ,


I Forgive You!

I want to share a letter I found while rummaging through old papers. I wrote this letter when I was 18 years old. It was written to my father.


October 6, 1996
Dear Father,
I am writing you this letter to express to you my thoughts and feelings. First off, I want you to know that the days of denying who you are to me are over. After mom and I moved here, she told me the truth about who you really are. She told me that you are my biological father, not just my daddy. She told me that you forced her to have sex and got her pregnant with me. I was 10 years old. Do you realize the burden I have carried for these last 8 years?
From that time, I have had to deal with the hard facts. When mom married Tomas, I thought that my problem was solved. He could be my dad, and you could be my grandfather. I wanted to see you as less than a person. I hated you for making me a bastard, an odd ball! Everyone else’s dad was normal but not mine. That reality hurt deeply. Because I wanted a “daddy” so much, I took Tomas as my “daddy”. When we left him, I once again was left without a father figure. This time, I couldn’t deny who you were.
Even then, I hated you , though I wouldn’t admit it. I wanted to believe that you were dead! I was angry because not only did you sexually abuse my mama and get her pregnant , but after I was born, you sexually abused me too. Sometimes the memories and realization hit me all over again, when I think of relatives like my half brothers and sisters on your side that should ONLY be my uncles and aunts, or when I think of my cousins and how they are really half nieces and nephew. Your actions brought so much confusion and pain in my life. I still have to deal with those things. Do you?
What I want to tell you is that I have prayed that my Jesus (the Jesus Christ of the Bible) would give me His eyes to see your heart. I haven’t forgotten my past (I don’t think I could if I wanted to), but I can now tell you from the depths of my heart that I FORGIVE YOU! Not because of anything you did or didn’t do, but because Jesus directed my in His word to. My unforgiveness is binding you and me. In Matthew 16:19, Jesus said that whatever I bound on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever I loose on earth will be loose in heaven. His word also says in Matthew 6:14-15, “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
In His word, Christ has commanded me to forgive you and Ruben Garza, I have! I release you in Jesus precious name. I want you to know that I am not ashamed to be a Garza, but not because it’s wonderful, but solely since I know that my name is Rowena Abigail, daughter of God Most High!
When I look at you, I know longer see a dirty old pervert. Instead I see a man who doesn’t know God’s love, grace and true forgiveness. you see, if you did, you wouldn’t have to be afraid of being found out anymore. You would come to complete repentance and take whatever consequences befall you.
I am no longer worried or afraid of what people might think or do to me for the sins I have committed because I walk in repentance and the forgiveness that Jesus promises in
1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Dad, I want you to know this incredible freedom. I pray that before you die, you will truly experience true freedom from your sin. Jesus has so much to give you, so please take it!
Ruben Garza, I, Rowena, Daughter of the Most Wonderful Daddy (God the Father) in the world, forgive you for the pain and hurt that your sexual perversion and assault on my mom and me, cause me. Because of Jesus Christ, I can say I love you.

Your daughter,
Rowena Garza

This was the first of several letters I wrote my father. His perversion ran deep, and the scars that it has left on my family are still in many ways fresh. I felt compelled to share this because so many have written me to tell me about the abuse that they have suffered from.

Forgiveness is not a free pass to the offender. In today’s society, you will see movies and inspirational clips about how forgiveness is for you and not for your perpetrator, but really, forgiveness is only because of the power we have in Christ Jesus. Without His grace, we are powerless to forgive. Yes, we can forgive, but can we love our enemy as He told us to.

I have publicly taken a stand to fight for the children conceived in rape or incest. I have taken a stand for Moms from rape or incest. Why is that important here? Because I have walked through forgiveness with my dad (my bio-father), I am not bound by resentment or even regret. I went through a period where I regretted that I was born. NO more.

Lets walk in forgiveness and the love of Christ. Proclaim His words as we fight for EVERY life.

The Poison of Pain Capable Legislation

Very eye-opening! A good read!

Personhood Alabama

Earlier this year, the US House of Representatives attempted to vote on a bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of gestation.  This bill had several flaws in it and received opposition from several personhood groups until it was eventually pulled from the calendar.  Now, a revised version of this bill has been proposed by Representative Trent Franks (R) of Arizona.  This new bill still has many of the flaws contained in the previous bill, but now some personhood organizations are saying that it would be a good bill if just the rape and incest exceptions were removed.

Members of Personhood Alabama may have noticed several e-mails and facebook postings from personhood groups in other states and even from the national Personhood Alliance urging us to contact our representatives and ask them to remove the rape and incest exceptions from this bill.  In light of these requests I would…

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Conceived in Rape-Incest and Pregnant by Rape Twice

I am sharing my story for every girl who lives in silence, and for every person to understand that all life has value and is worthy of protection.

I was conceived in father/daughter rape-incest. My mother was molested by her father throughout her childhood and was 15 when I was born. She was offered an abortion by a doctor who had asked her if she had been a “bad girl,” to which she responded that she had not, because she really had no understanding of what he father had been doing to her. This doctor completely failed to help her break free from the molestation, incest and rape. In fact, Child Protective Services also failed to protect my mom, even though they were called by the school authorities, and while at school my mom told them what was happening. Nevertheless, they ultimately sent her home to be abused for several more years. Despite the pressure to abort, once my mom knew she was pregnant, she understood that a life was growing inside of her which she could not kill, and so, she refused the abortion and chose to bring me to birth.

When I was born, she said she loved me like a baby doll, but did not know how to care for me. As a result, her parents, Ruben and Rosa, raised me as their own until I was around 4 years old. At that time, she told me that she was my mom. Since I didn’t believe her, I asked Ruben and Rosa if this was true, and they confirmed for me that it was indeed true — they said that what birth-mom said was correct and that she really was my mom. I remember feeling confused, and to help myself deal with the confusion, I would call Rosa mom or mamma, and my birth-mom, I would call Becky or mother. I remember feeling weird in public because Becca was my sister to the public. Overall, I still saw Becca as my sister and friend, even though I knew she was my mom. (During this period of time from ages 0 until I was 10 years old, I knew my birth-mom and her siblings as my siblings. I grew to love them as such. Even after I found out the truth, I still loved these people as my siblings, except my mom.)

My earliest memory of abuse is as a baby. My father, Ruben, started to physically and sexually abuse me from around 1 year of age until I was 10 years old. In once instance, my grandmother Rosa even caught him and threatened to divorce him if he ever did it again, but I was too scared to tell her what was happening. I knew what he was doing was bad, though I didn’t know the name for it. I knew that he was bothering me and I didn’t like it. He was a big man (350+ lbs) and he was violent, so I was terrified of him. I felt so dirty, defiled and ashamed. There are so many memories of the sexual abuse and a great deal of pain in recounting any of them.

My young mom did her best to protect me. One of my memories of her protecting me was around the age 8 or 9. My father was upset with me about not doing a chore right, so my mom (Becca) told me to hide under the sink and be real quiet. I did, but felt guilty because I knew what he would do to her. Sure enough, he gave her my beating. I could hear it and see from a small hole. Other times, she would ask me if he was “bothering” me. I know I would tell her both no and yes. She would ask me if I would want to go or stay if she ever left, and I would tell her that I definitely wanted her to go! Finally, on November 16, 1988, she secretly took me out of school with the help of our oldest sister, Rachel. My mom and I ran away with family friends to Plainview, TX, and it was about 7 years before I saw my father or my grandmother again.

Within a couple of months after moving, my mom told me the truth – that my father had sexually abused her as well, and that I was a result of that abuse. It didn’t shock me because I had a feeling he had been doing the same things to her, but I definitely felt confused, gross, ashamed, and worthless, and wondered how my mother could really love me.

Plainview was supposed to be a new start, but unfortunately, we ended up in an abusive cycle again. My mom met my step-father at church, and he was a charmer. He swept my mom off her feet. I don’t remember exactly how I felt about him, but I do know that I wasn’t happy that he was taking my mom away. Shortly after my 11th birthday, he talked my mom into letting me spend the night with him and his girls, and she took his youngest son. That night, my future step-father sexually abused me. I tried to tell my mom, but the church we were going to gave her bad advice, and they blamed me. After that, I felt alone and trapped as the abuse continued over the next five years.

At age 13, I became pregnant by my step-father, though hadn’t realized at the time that I was actually pregnant because I didn’t understand what was going on with my body, and now that I’ve experienced four miscarriages in my life, I realize that I was pregnant by him, ending sadly in miscarrying the baby. He had told me that if I ever got pregnant, he would force me to have an abortion.

Until after my sixteenth birthday, I was trapped in a very destructive relationship with my step-father. He was completely warped and told me strange things such as that he wanted to marry me and wanted me to raise my younger sisters and brother. I prayed for a way out! I thought that I would suffocate from the inside and out. My way out was close, though I didn’t know that at the time.

My family started going to a new church. This church would be the path to freedom that God used to end the abuse. One day, in June of 1994, my mom walked in on my step-father raping me. The feeling of doom was so thick, I was smothered by it. I was sure that my mom was going to send me away, but the next day, she went to our pastor and told him what happened. This time, the pastor called the police. Finally, my cage door was opened!

He was charged and arrested, my step-father and mother got a divorce, the grand jury indicted him, but then the prosecutor cut a plea bargain, so he spent 10 years in prison. Although some would call this justice, I remember feeling at the time very upset that I did not have my say in Court and I wanted my voice to be heard. Finally after all of these years, I have the opportunity to be heard!

I have survived sexual assault and rape by my biological father, uncle, half-brother, step-father and other men. Healing started to happen as I sought out counseling. At the age of 19, I met my future husband. He was the first man who treated me with respect and dignity. We dated for two years before getting married in October of 1999, and he’s been my biggest supporter.

While my husband was away for training with the United States Navy, when I was 22 years old, I was raped by a stranger in a home invasion while I was sleeping. I did everything “right” – I went to the hospital where we reported it to the police, and I had a rape kit done. I was offered the Morning After pill, but I declined because I knew the risks involved. The perpetrator was never caught. My husband came home within 48 hours of the rape, and we moved to a new location for obvious reasons.

About a month later, I had a positive home pregnancy test. I was scared and alone. My husband was back at Naval Training again. I went to a pregnancy clinic, not knowing the difference between a pro-life pregnancy resource and an abortion-friendly clinic which encourages and refers out for abortions. At this clinic, I was strongly encouraged to have an abortion — particularly because I was pregnant by rape. I was completely shocked and appalled! I told them I did not want an abortion, and I promptly left. I told my husband that I was pregnant, and I asked him if he would raise the child with me. I was so scared that he might say no! He told me that just as I was a miracle, this child is also a miracle, and that he would love the child like his own. In that moment, I felt secure and protected, but at the same time, I felt unworthy of such unconditional love. Within another month, I began to bleed, and I either miscarried or had a false positive pregnancy test. I had a accepted the fact that I was going to have a baby, and felt sad realizing that the baby’s life was gone.

I have had five miscarriages and the doctors told me that it was my genetic makeup due to my conception which makes me more susceptible to miscarriages. Gratefully, my husband and I have two healthy children together. My path of healing has taken so much hard work, but it has been worth it — God has been so gracious to me! I reconciled with my biological father before he died and forgave him. I am working with my mom to rebuild a broken and confused relationship. I am a Christian and find my Hope in Jesus Christ. I have come to a place of peace about my conception and I can now voice my deep found identity in the One who created me.

I have now shared my story as person who was conceived in incest/rape to educate the public about the my people group, sharing how mom and children affected by sexual assault conception need love and support. I am also a sexual assault survivor advocate and speaker with church groups, youth groups, college groups, in the media and testifying before the state Legislature. I desire to speak to the value of life — even the lives of those who, like me, were conceived in incest and/or rape. As I have come to see my life as a precious gift given to me, I want the unborn lives of all to be protected from abortion, and I want every child to be protected from sexual assault.

I recently celebrated 18 years of marriage with my husband Casey. We have two beautiful children — a son and a daughter. My family and I attend a local Baptist church near Lynchburg, VA. I attend Liberty University. I hope to become a professional Christian/Biblical counselor specializing in sexual assault conception. I have started an organization called Treasure of Virtue (ToV). ToV was created to bring resources together for women who conceive from sexual assault and the children who were conceived in sexual assault. I know God is calling me to use my story to offer hope and healing to others, and to show His goodness in my life! If you would like me to speak at your event or are looking for more information, you can contact me at Also visit, like and share my Facebook page

Reasonable Exceptions

Tonight, the New Mexico House of Representatives passed HB 390, the Late-term Abortion Ban and HB 391, the Parental Notification Act. I wish I could have been there with my sign that says Conceived in Incest/Rape! I knew that the odds of these bills passing without exceptions were high! Despite efforts to get an amendment for the removal of the rape exception, the Republican House moved forward with the bills, as is. I am fighting an uphill battle.

As I sat listening to the debate, Representative Montoya (Yes the one that bullied me to keep quiet) stood up to support HB 390. In his comments, he mentioned the exceptions. His words to describe the exception of rape, incest and sexual abuse were “REASONABLE EXCEPTIONS.” I must tell you that my reaction to his words was one of anger! How dare he call my life and the lives of those like me, conceived in rape, incest and sexual abuse, reasonable exceptions! Yet another representative called the child conceived in rape, incest or sexual abuse “caveats. What is the definition of caveat? It is: an explanation or warning that should be remembered when you are doing or thinking about something.

Unfortunately, these men are not alone in their thinking. As I have taken a stand against the rape/incest exception, I have become more aware of how many people believe that it is okay to have this exception! Even today, I was told that as long as something is on the books, then we can revisit the exception. I explained yet again, that not only is it a human rights issue to those conceived in rape, incest, or sexual abuse, it is a large loophole that will be utilized! How vast the thought that those of us conceived in rape, incest or sexual abuse, can be “terminated” with simple words. 

Yesterday, I celebrated my 37th birthday. Each year that I celebrate my birth, I am reminded of how I came to be in my mamma’s womb. I have moments where I cry and grieve my conception. I think of all the times that I have been told that my mom should have aborted me. Even people close to me have said things along the lines of, “How hard it must be for your mom to look at you and not see her father! It would have been easier for her if you weren’t here.” Even writing those comments cut my heart deeply.

I am so grateful for the heart to heart conversations that I have had with my mom. She told me that when she had me, she didn’t know how to be a mom. I was like a doll to her. She didn’t know how to love me the way that a mom loves her child. BUT she did love me. She valued me. She cherished my life. She fought for me the only way that she could at the time. She didn’t allow her father (my biological father) and mother to adopt me. She kept me. SHE KEPT ME!!!!! Those are powerful words to me. She could have discarded me like the compromising pro-lifers give exception for. I am so thankful that she loves me and celebrates my birthday with me.

Compromising pro-lifers easily put my life and those like me on the altar of politics. Tonight a democratic representative describe this contradiction well. He said that it was lack of political will that  the rape, incest and sexual abuse exception was not removed. He doesn’t see this exception as reasonable. This man is a democrat. He is not compromising his believes. Yet, many of the republican legislators and pro-life leaders compromise their “pro-life beliefs” with a bloody rape, incest and sexual abuse exception! They even call it a “Reasonable Exception!” No! It is discrimination! Did you hear that? It is DISCRIMINATION!!!

Day at the Roundhouse in Santa Fe, New Mexico

On February 20, 2015, I went to the New Mexico Roundhouse to speak out in support of HB 390 Late-term Abortion Ban without the rape exception. My family and I got there early, and I was excited but nervous! This was a big step for me on so many levels. While I have shared my story with more people than I can count, I had never spoke in front of a legislative committee with opposition around me. Why would I go before the committee and share how I was conceived in incest/rape? Because the lives of the rape/incest conceived matter, and as a follower of Christ, I must stand for what is right! A bill with the rape exception IS NOT RIGHT, NO MATTER WHAT ANYONE SAYS! Before I go into the details of that comment, I want to share what my day was like.

The House Regulatory and Public Affairs Committee allowed those who were against the ban to speak first! Their testimonies went for 2 or 3 hours, I believe. (For those who read this, please correct me if I am wrong.) Listening to the pro-abortion statements was difficult so say the least. Some of the comments were comical because the facts presented seemed staged. I had to cough a few times to clear my throat so I could stifle the chuckle. It was heartbreaking to watch soon-to-be physicians and MD’s spout the lies they believe about abortion! Some of these women were so young!!!!!! Even as I listened to them, I was praying for God to reveal the truth to them. There were women who almost yelled at the committee that it was their body, their lives! They had no right! I sat in my chair beside my husband and children, thinking how selfish those comments were! I saw hate spewing from these women’s mouths onto our legislators. It was sad.

After the opposing side had its turn, the line of speakers for HB 390 started to line up. Since I am in a power chair, moving around this crowded room was a chore. When I got to the line of people wanted to testify in support of the bill, I started to navigate through the stream of people. I was treated with kindness and allowed to be second to speak. Oh man, I was conflicted! Relieved that it would be over, I was also so nervous! What if I forget to address the committee? What if I freeze up completely? What if I just cry? What if I make a fool of myself? What if the committee or anyone else hates me and I am mistreated? Those are just a few of the thoughts that I was fighting against. I knew days before that I was to speak, but every time I would sit to write out what I was to say, the paper stayed blank. I sought the Father for His guidance. What did He want me to tell this committee?

I finally wrote down a few words on a piece of paper, while I waited to testify. Here is what I wrote, “Madam and Mr. Chair and Committee, My name is Rowena Slusser and I am in support of HB 390 with an amendment to remove the rape/incest and sexual abuse exception.” I still didn’t know what else I was to tell this legislative body. Finally, it was my turn to the microphone. I vaguely remember reading the introduction off the paper. I remember saying something about the exception being a civil rights issue. The rest of my testimony is a fog. I have seen my video, so I know that I said what was needed, but it was the Lord that put those words in my mouth! I remember seeing the committee through what I can only describe as a wall of water!

I can only imagine what Moses felt going before Pharaoh, knowing that Pharaoh’s heart would be hardened! What of Esther? She becomes queen, only to go before the king, unannounced (which is punishable by death!), to speak up for the life of her people! My life wasn’t on the line. I am not in any physical danger! The bravery of these to biblical heroes is astounding to me. I felt as though I was pleading for the lives of my people! Who are my people? They are men and women who were conceived in rape, incest or sexual abuse! They are the pre-born babies conceived in rape, incest or sexual abuse. They are the women who are marginalized and mistreated for wanting to keep her child! They are the parents who have adopted a rape or incest conceived child! We are the first put on the alter of politics! When our lives are extinguished, so many suffer!

Out of all the “Pro-life” speakers that testified, only four of us stood up for the rape and incest conceived. Not one Albuquerque Pro-life Leader stood against the exception! One of the “Pro-life” leaders called me a good friend! The line of speakers dwindled down, and I was so relieved because we had been in the hearing for over 4 hours at that point. Then I was surprised when my husband said that he wanted to testify. He got up there and introduced himself. Then he said that the supported the bill with amendment to remove the rape, incest and sexual abuse exception. Whoa! My husband is standing up! He has been my biggest support and encouragement! I have always known that he has my back when it came to my past and my conception! But now he was speaking out, telling the committee, that he was thankful to my mom for saying no to an abortion! He said that this exception was wrong! He said how much he valued me, how much he loved me! I was beyond words! That was MY MAN! My man was bold!!!!!! I am so thankful for him! (Casey, I love you and respect you!)

Finally, the last speaker spoke. The committee asked questions of the presenters of the bill. Then the vote was taken. The bill passed committee with the exceptions in. The vote was 4-3 along party lines. My heart broke, but I wasn’t surprised. I was ready to go to the hotel. My children sat through the entire hearing and were tired! I had completed the mission and was ready for some rest and relaxation. But that isn’t what happened.

As we were preparing to leave, I was approached by New Mexico House of Representative Rod Montoya (R-San Juan County, District 1). He positioned himself in a way that made it difficult for me to remove myself. I felt trapped. He whispered in very low tones. He told us that he had other people get up to speak for the bill because he didn’t want the Committee to recall what the previous speaker said! He said that we had to be careful with what we say. If I show that I do not fully support the bill, I could cause it to not go through. I told him that I understood what he was saying , but that I had to speak my conscious! He said that in the House that it wasn’t as big of a deal, but that in the Senate, there were two democratic senators that wouldn’t vote for the bill’s passage if they heard the slightest opposition. He very strongly reminded me that at least some babies would be saved. To this comment, I replied that it was the babies’ lives left out of the bill that was the problem. He assured me that if the bill passed with the exception, that they would revisit it and cover all lives. He said that this bill would save 95% of the babies being aborted late term. I told him again that the 5% is why I am fighting! I told him that I wouldn’t purposely try to kill the bill, but that I will not back down from stand up for babies conceived that way I was. To this, he eluded to me being selfish. I told him that the only way that I might not speak out was if he would email me “proof” of other abortion bills with exceptions, where legislators later removed the exceptions. (Mind you, I know that he cannot do this because it hasn’t happened.) He changed the subject and again told me to stay quite. I firmly told him that I would do what I thought was right. He again reminded me that it would be my fault if the bill didn’t pass the Senate. At this point, my husband engaged him in conversation. I told Representative Montoya that I would consider what he was saying but that I must not back down unless I felt right about it. My husband would ask him questions that would stump him. I will ask my husband if he will write them down so that I can include them later. I finally was able to remove myself from this “silencing” session. I have seen movies where a politician try to manipulate someone to change their stance, but experiencing this in person was surreal.

This adventure reminds me of a clip from the novel Divergent. Tris has chosen Dauntless. She has to jump into the unknown to finalize her choice. She has to have courage and bravery! All she has know is how to be invisible as Abnegation. Selfless. Now she has to be daring, take risk! I see myself a lot in the character of Tris. I have been sheltered in my world, raising my kids, being a stay at home wife and mom. Serving others. I love serving my family and others but it is a sort of comfort zone for me. I am being asked to JUMP OUT of my comfort zone and into battle. My voice, my risk has been minimal. Now the Lord is calling me to scale mountaintops with Him. Take risk.

Testifying in the hearing was a risk, a big risk. This risk has consequences. Some consequences have already presented themselves. I have had painful comments from people close to me. I have been bullied by leaders. My heart is broken! Do I regret standing up, taking the risk? No, I do not! My Savior reminds me that He gives me His peace. I am loved by Him so I do not have to be afraid. This is His working! He will continue to lead me and give me what to say!

My day at the Roundhouse was the first of many advocating for the lives of women who conceive in rape, incest, sexual abuse, and sex trafficking, the lives of pre-born babies conceived in rape, incest, sexual abuse and sex trafficking.