She survived a saline infusion abortion; now she advocates for life
In 1977, Melissa Ohden’s biological mother was a 19-year-old college student when she had a saline infusion abortion that was meant to end Melissa’s life. But she survived. Now, Melissa is the Founder and Director of The Abortion Survivors Network, the only healing and advocacy organization for abortion survivors. A pro-life advocate and frequent guest on radio and TV, Melissa has testified before Congressional committees numerous times. My Faith Votes talked with Melissa to get her perspective on the state of pro-life legislation and initiatives as we face a new Congress and Administration that is rapidly rolling back pro-life advancements from the last four years.
What are the positives and negatives you see with the new administration?
I’m a firm believer that obstacles are opportunities. To say that the current administration is an obstacle to the protection of the unborn and even the protection of the lives of abortion survivors is an understatement, unfortunately. From executive orders like the Mexico City policy to their expressed commitment to “codifying” Roe vs. Wade, the attacks have been swiftly carried out as so many of us expected and feared.
As pro-life, Christian, conservative, American, we have an opportunity right now to rise up. It’s not too early to be looking ahead to midterm elections and even the next Presidential election. Now is the time to become better informed and better equipped on policy matters and how to be involved. Now is the time to become invested in what’s happening in your local government and your state.
No matter what administration is in office, ordinary people like you and me, who are committed and involved at the grassroots level are the solution. We are called to serve, we’re called to speak up and speak out, we’re called to be light, even more so in an increasingly dark time.
I know people look upon my life and think that my purpose, my platform was clearly laid out for me, but every single one of us is called to be committed and faithful. Honestly, the people who I admire the most for their impact on this world are people whose stories you will likely never know. They’re making a difference without it ever being highlighted to others. I hope people find encouragement in that.
I think it’s also important to note Senator Sasse’s reintroduction of Born-Alive protection federally through an amendment (which wasn’t passed), as well as Senator Paul’s introduction of the Life at Conception Act, and Representatives Wagner and Scalise’s re-introduction of Born-Alive legislation.
Additionally, let’s not forget that Democratic Representative Tulsi Gabbard introduced both Born Alive and Pain-Capable legislation in late 2020. Their commitment to these policies in a hostile-to-pro-life-causes administration are definitely positives, and in my opinion, a great opportunity for us to get involved. Thank these legislators! Email them, call their offices, make your positions on these bills heard.
What is happening at the state level that you see as a positive for pro-life legislation and is this the area that we should be more focused on right now?
The Abortion Survivors Network Education and Policy Center has seen a significant number of pro-life legislation introduced with state legislative sessions convening in January. We should be focused on state-level legislation right now, and in reality, involvement at the state level is an area that is typically overlooked or overshadowed in many ways.
When states like New York passed sweeping legislation that allowed for abortion throughout all nine months of pregnancy, many people were shocked. However, those who had been highly involved in the fight against this legislation there for years weren’t as shocked as they were saddened. What happened there was not a sudden onslaught---it was years in the making. I share that because that’s how important being involved or at least well educated with state-level policy issues is.
What happened in New York has happened in many states since then. Particularly, we see abortion advocates attempting to pass legislation stating that abortion is a constitutional right (like Kansas), and allowing it unrestricted, in preparation for what they see as a potential for Roe vs. Wade to fall and revert the issue back to the states.
Clearly, state legislation is important and we need to focus on it.
What makes the Abortion Survivors Network message unique in a culture that openly celebrates “choice”?
Our culture has been so deeply impacted by abortion that any experience that doesn’t fit the predominant narrative of choice or right is silenced.
Abortion survivors existed before abortion was legalized and children are born alive after failed abortion attempts still today. Yet, you wouldn’t know that by the messages of our culture or many politicians.
The Abortion Survivors Network provides healing and much-needed community support to abortion survivors and their families. We equip survivors in finding and using their voice. We’re a platform that raises the voices of a population whose very existence dispels the lies that abortion is a choice and a right. Without life, there are no other rights. Many of us say that frequently, but as abortion survivors, we live that in a very tangible way. There’s something so incomprehensible about the fact that as a woman, I have a “right” to abortion in our society, but as an abortion survivor, I didn’t have the “right” to be born.
We all can and should rise up, but no one dispels the lies of abortion and humanizes what so many people see as a “political issue” the way that survivors of abortion—that’s what makes our message so unique and so needed in our world.
To learn more about Melissa and the work of The Abortion Survivors Network, visit: www.abortionsurvivors.org
*above photo is Melissa at 25 days old*
My Faith Votes—is a nonpartisan movement that motivates, equips and activates Christians in America to vote in every election, transforming our communities and influencing our nation with biblical truth. By partnering with national faith leaders, My Faith Votes provides resources to help Christians Pray, Think, and Act to create an America where God is honored in the public square.