NRL News

What the face of “Failure” Looks Like

by | Jun 30, 2020

By Melissa Ohden

Editor’s note. In 1977, Melissa survived a saline abortion. In the years since, she has spoken all over the world, including at many National Right to Life Conventions. This appeared on her blog.

Melissa Ohden

Looking back at me on Facebook is the beautiful, smiling face of a young woman.

She’s a “failure,” too. Like me, as she referenced in her statement.

She was replying to this photo of my friends and fellow abortion survivors, Melody and Claire.

I say failure in quotes, as we’re not really failures; we’re successes, in our eyes and the eyes of many others.

Claire’s twin brother was aborted. It wasn’t until after that abortion that doctors discovered that her birthmother had been carrying a second child, too—Claire.

Gratefully, her birthmother continued the pregnancy with Claire and placed her for adoption.

Melody had two abortions, herself, before she learned through her grandmother that her mom has attempted to abort her in Mexico all those decades prior.

It’s a very surreal thing to be alive. It’s such a blessing.

Yet, we’re alive only because something failed.

The very thing that was meant to succeed in ending our life failed.


I’m so proud of every survivor who connects with us through The Abortion Survivors Network. I’m so thankful of their willingness to share their story even privately with other survivors. No matter how many survivors I encounter, no matter how many stories that I hear, I’m impacted by them each and every time.

I remember how lonely I felt years ago when I didn’t know of any other survivors. I can only hope that sharing our stories, seeing our faces, chips away at some of that loneliness that other survivors may experience.

And as I see replies like this one, with another survivor putting their face out there to the world, even if it’s simply through their comment on that Facebook post, I can’t help but think about how our stories can shape the world.

We’re past the point in our society, by and large, where people simply state that an unborn child is not yet human. You can’t deny science. However, when it comes to abortion, our humanity is often overlooked.

I truly believe that the nature of abortion–creating a situation where most outside of abortion clinic staff don’t have to face us as victims of abortion, where the unborn are faceless and nameless to the world–has enabled abortion to continue its destruction. It’s allowed the truth about abortion to be bent by rhetoric and the belief that somehow it being legal makes it acceptable.

As survivors, we know the names and faces of hundreds of others just like us.

We know that life circumstances like ours occur far more frequently than what our society at large talks about. We know the depths to which abortion impacts everyone’s lives, as we’ve witnessed it first-hand.

And yes, we know what it’s like to be seen as a failure in the eyes of many.

There are many survivors who have been told by their biological families that they are, indeed, a failure—that they should have just died like they attempted to accomplish. If you’re one of those survivors, know that you are not a failure. Your worth and value are not dependent upon someone else’s assessment of you.

Of course, we know that our lives as survivors are also seen by many as the ultimate failure. Children who survive abortions have been termed “the dreaded complication of abortion.”

Think about what it’s like to encounter those words. It’s dehumanizing to be called a failure or something to be dreaded. Yet, those are the circumstances under which we were born. The very thing meant to end our lives ultimately becomes the vehicle through which we enter the world.

We can’t deny the circumstances of our births. It’s my sincerest hope that survivors can continue to embrace their lives and find the strength that Melody, Claire, and I have had to no longer carry the shame of the words “failed abortion.”

Those words are part of our history, a huge part, but we are so much more than that.

We’re someone’s daughter, someone’s wife, someone’s mother, someone’s friend.

Together, let’s peel back the words “failed abortion” and see underneath the humanity of the child whose life their mother attempted to take.

Let’s recognize that the children who survive are not something to be dreaded but someone to be respected.

And survivors, let’s continue to grow in strength and healing so that no matter what words are used to describe us, we are confident and courageous in who we are.

Categories: Abortion Survivor