Abortion survivor reflects on
her mother’s near fatal choice
GREEN BAY, Wis. (CNS) -- Melissa Ohden remembers the moment she knew she’d forgiven the mother who had tried to abort her.
“I was just married a year. I was thinking about how I wanted to be a mom, to have a house,” the Sioux City, Iowa, resident remembers. “I was driving on a country road, and all of a sudden it hit me: ‘I’m not different than my mother must have been. She must have been thinking all those things, when she found out she was pregnant with me.’ That was a humbling moment, to realize that she was no different than me, but she made a different decision than me.” It was 1977 when Ohden’s biological mother, a university student in Iowa, tried to end her six-month pregnancy by a saline abortion.
The abortion failed and Ohden survived. She was soon adopted and, even though her pediatricians believed she would suffer lifelong complications from the abortion attempt, Ohden had no long-term effects.
Today, a mother herself, she speaks about her experience, her biological parents and their families, her adoptive parents and her own daughter, to pro-life groups around the country.
Ohden’s intent with her public speaking is to give a face and a voice to those children who experienced abortion, as she did, but did not survive.
“It’s about being able to reflect the true reality of what abortion is,” she said in a telephone interview with The Compass, Green Bay diocesan newspaper. “We in the pro-life movement talk about unborn children all the time, but we don’t hear them. That’s one reason the Lord saved my life, to talk about that, about my unborn brothers and sisters.”
It’s something that resonates with her audiences.
“Every time I go speak somewhere,” Ohden said, “I am so surprised by the number of people who line up to speak to me. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, brothers and sisters, to tell me their story and tell me how much they are hurting because of an abortion -- they are missing out on that person in their lives.”
This is also why Ohden founded For Olivia’s Sake, a nonprofit organization that “seeks to peacefully raise awareness of the intergenerational impact of abortion on men, women, children, families and communities.”
Olivia is her 2-year-old daughter’s name. The name came to Ohden when she was just a few days pregnant in August 2007. She was on Capitol Hill in Washington and preparing to speak when the name came to her. She was thinking about olive branches extended in peace.
“Peace begins in the womb,” she said.