NRL News

I survived an abortion. I am far from the only one

by | Feb 20, 2023

By Melissa Ohden

Editor’s note. Today is President’s Day, a federal holiday. We’re running stories from the past that you’ve indicated you particularly like. We’re back on Tuesday will the latest pro-life updates.

“[We’re] literally making stuff up. …A child doesn’t come out partway alive and doctors kill it. It’s not a thing. It’s not a thing today, it’s not a thing tomorrow, it’s not a thing ten years ago,” Minnesota State Sen. Alice Mann (D) stated in a recent hearing called “Establishing Fundamental Right to Reproductive Health.” 

While Twitter retweets and replies to Sen. Mann’s blistering response to her colleague Sen. Bill Lieske’s (R) introduction of an amendment to stop abortions of “a child in part born alive” are a viral thread of punches from one side of the political aisle to the other, exchanging blows over what each side calls partisan propaganda, what’s missing from the 280-character dogfight is the irrefutable fact that babies can and do survive abortion throughout pregnancy. We know this from the medical and adoption records of abortion survivors; survivors’ and families’ stories; medical research; and doctors’, nurses’ and even abortionists’ statements.

Babies who survive abortions aren’t typically partially delivered and killed. More typical is that they survive chemical abortions in the first trimester. They survive surgical abortions in the second trimester that may leave them with significant wounds found upon delivery, as was the case for survivor Hope Hoffman. They survive induction of labor in the third trimester with the intent that they won’t survive the preterm induction, or with the plan to leave the child to die if they do survive the delivery, as was the case with Sarah Zagorski and, sadly, as happened in the practice of the imprisoned Dr. Kermit Gosnell, where some babies were brutally killed by having their spinal cord “snipped.”

The lives of abortion survivors are not political fodder. They shouldn’t be reduced to a partisan issue. But this is what the Democratic Party, the abortion industry and their lobbyists are doing to us.

Yes — us.

Forty-five years ago, in 1977, my birthmother, a 19-year-old college student, was forced to abort me at the urging of her mother, a nurse. After soaking in the toxic salt solution of the saline abortion for five days, her labor was finally successfully induced on that fifth day. Instead of expelling my dead body from her womb, as was intended and expected, I was accidentally born alive.

You have a birthday. I have a day that I now celebrate as my birthday. That is, when I can bring myself to push through the pain and grief that day brings me every year. The simple joy of a birthday – from simple acknowledgment to extravagant celebration – is not universal. That an estimated tens of thousands of people like me have very different experiences is never lost on me.

Uncovering my birth story and survival has been a long and painful journey. Still, details – like me being left to die before a courageous nurse rushed me to the NICU – are like scenes out of a Hollywood movie. But survivors’ stories never end.

In a similar plot twist, 10 years ago I met my birth mother and learned that for more than three decades she had not known that I had survived.

Every abortion survivor’s experience is unique — from the type of abortion attempt they survived, their gestational age when it occurred and the impact upon them physically and emotionally, to whether they are raised by their biological or an adoptive family and even when and how they learn their story.

All those differences aside, we have so much in common, including the belief that we must be alone in this experience. How could an abortion survivor know differently when the media and politicians like State Sen. Mann, Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) in last week’s born alive vote in Congress and countless others over the last decade deny our existence, overlook the data on the incidence of failed abortions and the criminal actions of abortionists like Kermit Gosnell.

The overturning of Roe v. Wade is the start of a new era in our country. And although I celebrate that the Supreme Court recognized that attempting to end my life was no one’s right to execute (pun intended), the last seven months have shown us that there is much more work to be done to rebuild America’s culture — one that has valued “life and liberty” from the very beginning.

We should begin anew by supporting women like my biological mother and preventing anyone from ever experiencing the pain of abortion. We can assure you that the pain is real, but our lives are valuable.  

Here’s what the pro-life movement needs to prioritize in this rebuilding. We must collaborate and work together to stop the misinformation fueled by the abortion industry and its allies. We must hold the mainstream media accountable for the truth about what abortion is and is not. For instance, medical treatment for a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy is not an abortion procedure. Further, we must share the truth about the risks of abortion, failed abortions and abortion survivors.

In addition to the United States implementing standardized reporting requirements for failed abortions, including chemical abortions and their complications, legislators must pass legislation that supports pregnant and parenting women and protects women from the lasting negative impact of abortion.

Finally, we must ensure that mothers who experience failed abortions receive quality medical care and emotional support throughout their pregnancy. Their babies who survive first- and second-trimester abortions need to be ensured quality medical care, they must be protected from a second abortion attempt and their families must be supported.

This is how we truly act to protect women’s health for generations to come. 

Editor’s note. Melissa Ohden, who survived a saline abortion in 1977, is founder and CEO of the Abortion Survivors Network and author of “You Carried Me: A Daughter’s Memoir.” This appeared in The Hill and is reposted with the author’s permission.

Categories: Abortion Survivor