EXCLUSIVE: Interview With Melissa Ohden, Survivor Of A Failed Saline Infusion Abortion Attempt And Author Of "You Carried Me"
When Melissa Ohden was just 14 years old, she learned she was the survivor of a failed abortion. What followed was a journey toward uncovering the truth and ultimately, total forgiveness toward those who meant to end her life. Her new book entitled You Carried Me is being released, today, January 9.
“I truly believe I would not be alive today if it were not for Jesus,” she said during the telephone interview, “but secondly, the book really is my tribute to my adoptive parents, who carried me in their hearts long before they ever met me …and my father, even though we never met, but mostly to my biological mother, who literally carried me in the womb.”
For those who are unfamiliar with her testimony, she miraculously survived a saline infusion abortion attempt when her mother was in her third trimester of pregnancy. “The saline infusion abortion that I survived thirty-nine years ago was a pretty common procedure back in the 1970’s,” she said. “…That procedure involved injecting a toxic salt solution into the amniotic fluid surrounding the baby in the womb, and the intent of that was to slowly scald the child to death from the outside in.”
Melissa soaked in that poisonous saline solution in her mother’s womb for five days. The procedure would typically only last for three days.
As doctors repeatedly tried to induce her birth mother’s labor, however, God had his hand on Melissa. He had strategic people in place both inside and outside of St. Luke's Hospital that day in Sioux City, Iowa that would intervene to save her life.
When she was finally delivered, it was apparent by her weak cries that she was still alive. Two nurses stepped in, and one nurse disobeyed orders to leave her to die, then rushed her into the neonatal intensive care unit, where she would be treated for respiratory distress syndrome.
“I absolutely owe my life to those nurses also,” she said. “I’m so thankful.”
Outside, people gathered to pray because patients regularly underwent abortion procedures at that hospital. One priest in particular, prayed that one day a child would survive an abortion. She would later meet that priest after she spoke at a pro-life event.
“My life has been filled with people who made a dramatic difference in my life and I think what I love about what the Lord has done is that he’s allowed them to know that I’m alive and well- and that their efforts were not in vain,” she said. “I think that’s a really huge gift.”
Perhaps the most devastating part of this story is when years later, Melissa would discover that it was her own grandmother, a nurse, who initially coerced her mother into the abortion. This is not uncommon. Melissa said that an estimated 64% of all women who undergo abortions are actually coerced into it by others, according to the Elliot Institute.
Not only that, she later discovered that it was her grandmother that delivered her as a tiny baby and left her to die.
But she has found forgiveness in her heart toward her grandmother and all those involved in trying to end her life. “Forgiveness has been a huge part of my life…as the story of my life has unfolded, I’ve had to forgive really key people in the biological family,” she said, adding that she is now at peace with the circumstances of her life.
Her story has come full circle. She gave birth to her daughter, Oliva, in the same hospital where her life nearly ended. She founded the Abortion Survivor’s Network, where other survivors can share their stories. To date, she said she has connected with 210 other survivors around the world. In addition, she has spoken before Congress and regularly speaks as a pro-life activist.
“I’m convinced God protected me to be a voice for the voiceless, and their mothers,” Melissa wrote in her book.
After an exhaustive 12- year search to find her birth parents, she finally released the situation to the Lord one day while doing laundry. She said "within six months, everything fell into place." That's because a packet of medical records arrived in the mail with her birth parents' names printed on them.
Melissa never met her birth father, who passed away before he was able to respond to a letter she wrote to him.
She has established a relationship with her birth mother, who didn't know that Melissa survived the abortion attempt. Her maternal grandparents (including the same grandmother who delivered her) set up the adoption without obtaining her birth mother's consent. It was later revealed that even the adoption papers were forged.
It is clearly evident after reading this story, that God has had his hand on Melissa’s life. It is a story of overcoming the unthinkable, forgiveness and ultimately, restoration. A profound read, her testimony is reminiscent of the poem Footprints, which describes how God carries us through our most difficult moments.
Within that poem, there is specifically one line that reads, “Lord I noticed that during those times in my life when I went through the most, I saw only one set of footprints. Why is that?”
To that, the Lord replied, “It was then that I carried you.”
To order your copy of You Carried Me, click here.