By Melissa Ohden
Editor’s Melissa, an old friend, miraculous survived a saline abortion in 1977. She has told her story of reconciliation with her biological mother all over the world. including at many NRL National Convention. She is also the founder of The Abortion Survivors Network.
I asked to ponder the decision after all these years of the daughter of Norma MCorvey–“Jane Roe”—to go public. Here is what she wrote,
How could I possibly empathize and relate in so many ways to Shelley Lynn Thornton, the now publicly identified daughter of Norma McCorvey, who was anonymous litigant in Roe v. Wade?
Shelley is the baby behind the landmark case that ultimately paved the way to more than 62 million abortions, including the saline infusion abortion that was meant to end my life in 1977.
Her life led to what was intended to be my death. But, yet…..
I see so much of myself in her.
I know what it’s like as an adoptee to have the awful truth that your biological mother wanted you aborted foisted upon you.
I know how that unexpectedly rocks your world and leaves you grasping for a ledge to pull yourself onto for safety.
I know what it’s like to live with a secret about your identity that weighs down with a heaviness that threatens to topple you most days.
I know what it’s like to live in fear that you can’t tell people parts of your story. They might ask too many questions. You might accidentally let something slip. You don’t know what they believe about abortion or what experiences they’ve had.
I know what it’s like to feel like I’m useful to the world or hated in the world solely for my story. “Do they see me for me?” I’ve wondered over the years. Thankfully, I’m blessed to be surrounded in my work and my personal life with people who know my story and see right past that to the heart of who I am. I hope you’ve found that, too.
Shelley Lynn, I can tell you that I see you for you. You are beautiful, by the way.
I’m sorry that you found out your story the way that you did.
I’m sorry that there have been so many people you’ve had to protect yourself from over the years. It sounds like your mom, Ruth, has protected you and supported you very much like my parents protected me from the truth of my story and people who could hurt me.
Like you, I’ve been united with my half-sisters from my maternal side of the family. Our similarities, our connections, our love, bring me immense joy. I know your experience with your birthmother, Norma, is not tidily wrapped up in a pretty bow. I, by contrast, I’ve been blessed to be united with my birthmother, Ruth, and see how my love and forgiveness has impacted her life. I absolutely understand, though, the place you find yourself navigating.
I know what it’s like to be faced with abortion in the news every single day and have it so deeply intertwined with my existence that every piece of that news feels personal. How do we find a way to live when the news that is so much of our personal identity is everywhere we turn.
Other people in our world have opinions on the issue. It is our identity. It’s taken me a lifetime to unravel where my identity and abortion begins and ends and embrace the whole me, abortion survivor and all.
No matter what happens with the court cases swirling around, you aren’t responsible for what happened to me or the tens of millions of children’s ended by abortion. There is nothing you have to apologize for and nothing you owe the world.
Like me, you were born under enormous stress and duress of circumstances that have shaped so much of your life. I hope that you find further love, peace, and understanding after your courageous step into the light.
As Peg Streep says, and we believe in so deeply at The Abortion Survivors Network, “For the healing self to thrive, it must have a voice.”
I hope that raising your voice helps you continue to heal and to thrive.