RANCHO SANTA MARGARITA, Calif., Feb. 5, 2007 -- Julie Makimaa was raised in a devout Christian family and never knew her mother had withheld a wrenching secret from her past.
"I grew up knowing I was adopted, thinking about my birth mother, praying for her," Makimaa said.
When she turned 21 and had her first child, Makimaa tracked down and contacted her birth mother, Lee Ezell, with a surprise phone call.
Ezell recalled the the startling call. "On the end of the phone was this person who said, 'My name is Julie. I live in Michigan, and I thought you'd like to know you're a grandma,'" Ezell said.
When they met for the first time, Ezell told her daughter she was conceived when Ezell was raped by a colleague. "I was a virgin teenager, and I had just become a Christian, and I was so confused. … Why is God letting this happen to me?" Ezell said.
She wrestled with the idea of having an abortion and said her faith pushed her "over the line" and she decided not to terminate her pregnancy. "I thought, 'I can't do it. If God's real, he's gotta help me out with this one. I'm going to give birth to this baby,'" Ezell said.
Then Makimaa's faith was tested, learning that she was conceived as the result of a rape. "I believe that there is a divine purpose and plan for everyone, and now it was time for me to say, 'Well, do you think that's a nice saying or do you really believe it?'" she said.
Makimaa and Ezell now travel the country and speak out against abortion at churches, conferences and state legislatures -- even in cases of rape and incest.
Even within the anti-abortion rights movement, there are some who believe victims of such crimes should not be forced to carry their rapists' babies and should have access to abortions.
Makimaa opposes that exception for women who are raped or who are the victims of incest. "Because I am the exception and I think my life has value," she said. "It wasn't my fault and [I] shouldn't be punished."
"The pro-life issues are not a … religious matter; they're a matter of human rights, and there's more than one human being to be considered," Ezell said.
When asked if it matters that the mother was violated to create the pregnancy, Ezell said she is still against abortion in that case. "Yes, because of the beautiful people that I have seen who are the result of those bad experiences who are wonderful, good people," Ezell said.
It's a controversial argument amplified by a compelling personal story. Makimaa, who is now a mother and a grandmother, notes that three generations would have been lost had her birth mother made a different choice.