Unborn children targeted for abortion are too young to have a voice. But when a child miraculously survives that abortion, she can grow up to be a voice for all of them.
Melissa Ohden's birth mother underwent a coerced saline infusion abortion in 1977. Melissa survived the five-day poisoning meant to end her life. And now she speaks up for others like her.
"We live in a culture that … has termed lives like mine 'the dreaded complication' of an abortion—a child who lives," Melissa said at MCCL's 2019 Legislative Dinner. "This is what abortion has done to our society. People now make life-and-death decisions about lives like mine every single day."
Melissa headlined the MCCL event on Feb. 26 at the Landmark Center in St. Paul. In a room full of state lawmakers and their constituents, Melissa shared her story of survival, forgiveness, and restoration. And she pointed to the importance of protecting the human rights of other children threatened by abortion or infanticide.
"My experience is one that most children [who are subjected to abortion] will never be able to experience—because their lives are ended in that abortion, or after they're born alive," Melissa said. "When children like me fight for our lives in the womb, we shouldn't have to fight for our lives again after we survive that abortion."
Melissa is the founder of the Abortion Survivors Network. She has testified before Congress, been featured on national radio and television programs, and authored the book You Carried Me: A Daughter's Memoir.
Her story is more relevant now than ever. In recent weeks, politicians in New York and elsewhere have pushed extreme legislation to remove the most modest limits on abortion—and even to repeal protections for babies, like Melissa, who survive abortion.
On Feb. 25, the U.S. Senate defeated the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, which simply requires that babies born alive in the context of abortion be treated the same as other babies born at the same age—it prevents abortion practitioners from abandoning, neglecting, or killing them. A total of 44 senators, including Minnesota's Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith, voted against protecting lives like Melissa's.
"I feel like we're really in this defining moment of our culture right now," Melissa said, "where life is either going to be greater protected and respected or ultimately aggressively attacked and rejected."
But she expressed determination and optimism.
"This is the time that legislation is needed more than ever," she said. "It's not a time to grow weary; it's not a time to slow down. The [pro-life] efforts will continue to speed up, and I know they're doing that right here in Minnesota."
Melissa added: "We're on the side of justice. We're on the side of compassion. And I think people are starting to figure that out."