She’s now sharing her story with the world — and seeking others who have also survived abortion.
From the Des Moines Register:
The defining moment of Melissa Ohden’s life arrived five days before she was born.
Her biological mother entered St. Luke’s Medical Center in Sioux City on Aug. 24, 1977, as a pregnant, 19-year-old college freshman.
She must have been scared. The teen from South Sioux City, Neb., was administered a saline infusion abortion – a salt injection designed to poison and burn the fetus as well as to induce labor.
Yet Ohden survived and eventually was born at 3:40 p.m. Aug. 29 with a weak cry, weighing in at just 2 pounds, 14 ounces. Her skin was “relatively pink” with some bruises.
It’s Ohden’s unlikely (she would say miraculous) survival more than 33 years ago that fuels her global anti-abortion activism today. In one speech and interview after another, Ohden recounts the details of her own brush with death in the womb, which left emotional scars but no tangible physical or mental disabilities.
Through her work, Ohden says she has become aware of only 13 other abortion survivors around the globe, including fellow anti-abortion activists Gianna Jessen, Claire Culwell and Brandy Lozier.
Medical records from St. Luke’s outline how Ohden “was delivered spontaneously in bed by a nurse.”In the space on a form that asks for “complications of this pregnancy,” the entry reads dryly: “saline infusion.” (Instillation methods such as the saline infusion that Ohden survived now represent fewer than 1 percent of abortions, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.)
“Legitimate?” the form also asks. “No.”
At one day old, the infant Ohden – still nameless at this point – was determined to be “doing well.”
“Active. Color good. Slight jaundice.”
Ohden’s mother initially reported herself as 18 weeks pregnant, but doctors later estimated the newborn’s gestational age to be closer to 31 weeks.
Ohden was placed in the care of the old Iowa Department of Social Services and transferred to University of Iowa Hospitals in Iowa City. Nurse Mary Schmelzer lovingly bestowed the infant with a temporary name: Katie Rose.
“I don’t have any children. That’s what I would’ve named them,” said Schmelzer, adding that Ohden is the only abortion survivor she’s come in contact with in 42 years of nursing.
When Ron and Linda Cross of rural Curlew drove to Iowa City to look at Katie Rose (Ohden) in 1977, her head was shaved from temple to temple where IVs had been inserted. She was still too weak to suck down liquids.
“When they put her in my arms, I just knew everything was going to be OK,” Linda Cross said.