By John Jalsevac
February 20, 2019 — In 1977, Melissa Ohden’s then-19-year-old mother was forced to abort her baby by her own mother. She underwent a grueling five-day saline abortion. At the end of it, she delivered what doctors expected would be the dead body of her baby.
Instead, Melissa was born alive. Astonishingly, however, Melissa’s birth mother was never told that her baby had survived — at least, not until more than three decades later, when Ohden initiated contact.
Ohden’s biological grandmother worked as a nurse in the hospital where the abortion took place, and was in the delivery room on the day of the abortion. As Melissa later found out from another nurse, it was her biological grandmother who demanded that Ohden be left to die, as happens to so many other babies that survive abortions.
Instead, two nurses intervened and rushed her into the NICU. A nurse who was in the NICU that night who contacted Ohden only two years ago told Melissa that she could remember that night perfectly.
“The door to the NICU came flying open (and) this tall blonde nurse rushed you in,” Ohden recalls this nurse telling her. “She said that darn Doctor Kelberg (the abortionist) messed up.”
The nurse told Ohden that she kept “gasping for breath” and decided she couldn’t just leave her. “That nurse did what people think was unthinkable,” Ohden told Jonathon van Maren in a recent interview on The Van Maren Show, LifeSite’s new weekly podcast. “She did not leave me in that room to die.”
Instead of telling Ohden’s birth mother that the baby she thought had been aborted was still alive, her grandmother quietly put the baby up for adoption. Ohden was adopted by a loving family. She only found out the truth about her birth by accident, when she was 14 – something that Ohden recalls was both “devastating” and life-changing.
After Ohden learned that she was an abortion survivor, she says she always assumed that her birth mother must have known that she had survived the abortion. She said it was the “biggest bombshell” to learn six years ago that her birth mother had no idea that Melissa was alive. For three decades, she had assumed that her baby had been successfully aborted.
After Ohden decided in 2007, at age 30, to begin publicly sharing her story, she decided that she had a duty to reach out to her birth mother’s family, in case they stumbled across her testimony.
“I didn’t want them to be further traumatized by me coming forward with my story,” she recounted. “And, so yeah, I wanted to have some contact with them first and so I did.”
She initially reached out – unsuccessfully – to her birth father, and then to her mother’s parents, since she couldn’t find her birth mother. Her maternal grandfather did respond. But by that time neither of Ohden’s grandparents had any contact with their daughter – Ohden’s mother.
Between 2007 and 2013, Ohden heard nothing further from her biological family. Then in 2013, one of her biological cousins reached out to her. The reason for the contact was that Ohden had just moved to Kansas City – the same city where, it so happened, her birth mother was living at the time.
Soon thereafter, Melissa and her birth mother started emailing back and forth. Ohden learned she also had two biological half-sisters. But no one yet dared to suggest an in-person meeting. “My birth mother was so traumatized by the abortion, by not knowing all those years that I had survived,” recalls Ohden. “Even though she lived with such incredible regret, she was also scared of me.”
“She had never encountered anyone who would love her really unconditionally before in her life. … And so she wondered if I could love her the way I said that I did. She wondered if I could have really forgiven all of them. … So there were these emotional obstacles we had to work through.”
Three years passed. Then, one day, Ohden decided to broach the subject of a meeting between herself and her biological family in an email to one of her half-sisters. Her sister responded enthusiastically. “And so we met face to face around Mother’s Day a couple of years ago now.”
The actual meeting with her mother and sisters, says Ohden, was “everything I was hoping for, but yet it was nothing like I expected it to be.” It was, she said, “one of those moments just so sacred that you can’t even really put it into words.”
Ohden now has regular contact with her birth mother as well as her biological half-sisters. Ohden’s own children know that her birth mother is their grandmother, and know their cousins.
As extraordinary as Ohden’s story is, however, she is only one of over 250 people that she knows of who survived abortions. Ohden, now a pro-life activist, hopes her story will wake people up to the horror of abortion.
Editor’s note. This appeared at LifeSite News. You can listen to the complete interview here.