The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution held a hearing on June 16th with a focus on the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA). It’s not unusual for the witnesses to be Abortion supporters who regularly talk about their own experiences to justify their anti-abortion positions.
But at this hearing, two pro-life women shared their personal stories about abortion so that they could shed a light on what they believe abortion to be: the intentional destruction of innocent human life that negatively impacts women.
The pro-life witnesses were Melissa Ohden, the founder and director of Abortion Survivors Network, and Catherine Glenn Foster, the president and CEO of Americans United for Life. Both of these women shared their personal stories, with one speaking as an abortion survivor and the other speaking as a post-abortive woman.
Ohden and Foster were challenging the WHPA and its intent on protecting “health care providers” by allowing them to perform an abortion “without limitations or requirements that single out the provision of abortion services for restrictions.”
These restrictions are supposedly “more burdensome than those restrictions imposed on medically comparable procedures” and those which “make abortion services more difficult to access.”
Melissa Ohden spoke with intensity as an abortion survivor. She directed this question at those leading the hearing, “how can access to abortion, the very act that should have ended my life, simultaneously be my fundamental right to exercise?”
Ohden’s 19-year-old biological mother in 1977 had a saline infusion abortion forced upon her by her mother. This mother was a “prominent nurse in their community.” The saline infusion procedure involved injecting a toxic salt solution into the amniotic fluid which is meant to protect a baby’s body. The saline infusion poisons and scalds the baby to death. “I soaked in that toxic salt solution for five days as they tried time and time again to induce Ruth’s labor with me,” Melissa said.
But Melissa held on to life.
“When I was finally expelled from the womb on that fifth day, my arrival into this world was not so much a birth, but an accident, a ‘live birth’ after a saline infusion abortion,” she added. “My medical records state: ‘a saline infusion for an abortion was done, but was unsuccessful.’”
The struggle for life wasn’t over after Melissa’s birth. The doctors suspected that there might be a fatal heart defect because of the trauma involved in the failed abortion. Her grandmother demanded that the infant be left to die. Apparently, this was not uncommon for babies aborted alive. They were left in the utility closet to die. But, thankfully, another nurse rushed Melissa to the NICU.
Through the Abortion Survivors Network, Melissa has connected with 384 other survivors. They range in age from infants to people in their 70’s.
“We are an inconvenient truth to the conversation about abortion,” she said. “There is something so disturbing . . . about the fact that I had the right to abortion, but I didn’t have the right to live. The great question is, when did my rights to bodily autonomy begin?”
Catherine Glenn Foster, a woman who had an abortion, declared that “Abortion is violence. I’ve felt it.”
“I so wish that the abortion facility that I walked into when I was just 19 years old had been regulated by the basic community protections that this Congress seeks to destroy,” she said of the WHPA.
Foster entered the facility for an abortion because she thought she was out of options. She was given a pill and then had an ultrasound. She said she saw a screen that clearly showed an image of her baby, but the screen was quickly turned away. She asked to see the screen, but the attendant said “no,” it was against policy.
“We know why,” Catherine concluded. “It’s because we change our minds when we see our ultrasounds. We change our minds when we see the image of our child on that screen.”
Both of these courageous women hope that their stories can change minds regarding the life of the unborn.