In 1977, five days after a saline abortion, Melissa Ohden was delivered and left on a table to die. Thirty-four years later, she is healthy and sharing her story around the world, providing a voice for the voiceless.
She’s featured in a new documentary called A Voice for Life, which premieres next week at the Heartbeat International Conference in Columbus, Ohio.
In June, Ohden will speak at the National Right to Life Convention.
She has a master’s degree in social work and has worked in the fields of substance abuse, mental health, domestic violence and sexual assault counseling, and child welfare. She is married and has a young daughter.
1. Tell us about the miraculous story of your birth.
(My) mother had an abortion during her fifth month of pregnancy. The type of procedure was a saline-infusion abortion, and what that does is scald the child to death while they’re still in the womb. Then, they induce labor and a dead baby should be born.
I was believed to be dead, and I was actually left for dead. I was placed along the bedside table. As the nurse was tending to (my mom), she realized that I was making small movements, and I was making grunting noises. So they realized that here I had been aborted, but I survived.
The doctors remarked that I looked like I was about 31 weeks’ gestational age. (They told my) adoptive family, “She’s probably not going to live for very long. And if she does, she’s going to be blind or deaf or have some sort of emotional or mental disability.”
2. When did you first learn those details?
I grew up knowing I was adopted. I was 14 when I found out the truth, and it was because my older sister (age 18) became pregnant. One night, I was having an argument with her. In the middle of this argument, she said, “You know what? At least my parents wanted me.”
(It was) such a striking blow for somebody who’s adopted, and then coming from another person who’s adopted, it (was) almost absurd.
(Editor’s Note: That night, Melissa waited up for her mother, who told her the truth.)
3. How did you get started in public speaking?
It was a long process for me. I had to do a lot of time healing. I wanted to have contact with my biological family and get my medical records, and so all of that really came together in 2007.
I first traveled across the United States and Canada, speaking mainly on college campuses (with Feminists for Life), not only sharing my story and really putting a face to abortion, but also helping those campuses take a look at themselves and determine what the obstacles are to women choosing life and people being able to parent and remain in school.
I do a lot of right to life educational forums and political forums to help educate people. It is about really putting a face to it and not just hearing statistics or reading about it — helping people understand this is a life-or-death issue.
4. Tell us about your ministry in Australia.
Real Choices Australia is about providing women with real resources and real supports and really meeting their needs. They’re very limited, resource-wise, in Australia. There’s not a lot of philanthropy.
It’s about really helping to gather people together to collaborate, to use those resources that they have and really engaging people in a conversation in a culture that doesn’t want to talk about abortion.
The statistics tell us that well over 90 percent of abortions are done for psycho-social reasons — lack of finances, lack of support, you name it. And so we need organizations around the globe who truly address those needs.
My biological mother had unmet needs that led to her being put in that position to abort me.
5. I understand you’ve played a role in shaping public policy. Explain that.
The very first time I shared my story publicly was on Capitol Hill. Since then, I’ve started to testify before state legislatures.
Going into this, I had no idea what God’s plan was, and I never cease to be amazed by the work that I do. Every day is a new adventure.
Visit Melissa Ohden’s website.
Learn more about Feminists for Life.
Visit the Real Choices Australia website.