The following is an excerpt of Melissa Ohden’s testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee this week against the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would overturn pro-life laws nationwide and institute unlimited abortions up to birth:
I’m here today, however, to challenge that premise [that abortion is not just legal, but a fundamental right] with personal experience and professional knowledge and expand upon this narrative to ensure the committee responsibly considers additional information. With this additional perspective, I encourage you to ask yourself, how can access to abortion, the very act that should have ended my life, simultaneously be my fundamental right to exercise?
Life is the foundation of all other rights. The very fact that this hearing is being held shows that everyone in this room was granted the privilege to retain that right–a privilege I was denied. A privilege my unprotected population of abortion survivors were denied. A right that thousands of unborn children will be denied the privilege of having today alone: the privilege of having a day you were born—not a day you were aborted. The privilege of a birthday—not a day you were accidentally born alive–after the abortion failed.
I know this is an “issue” we are all passionate about, but this privilege is one that is easy for most people to overlook.
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The abortion industry speaks ambiguously about the science of when life begins and what abortion does. But the reality is much clearer. You were as much you, in your mother’s womb as you were the day you were born, and as you are today. I was as much “me,” forty-three years ago when I was targeted for abortion, as I am today.
I’m sure many of you have joyfully shared what it was like to experience their life in its earliest stages with your own children: the first kicks, the first hiccups, your first experience of getting to know them, as they were growing and developing in the womb. Your child was as much your child then as they are now. My earliest stages, though, were different than yours, because it was interrupted by abortion. [She then explained the violence of August 1977 and that inflicted on other babies who survived the abortionist’s best efforts to kill them]…
Abortion survivors are citizens of this country who were denied their basic right to life. We are members of a marginalized, unprotected population that continue to experience trauma, as abortion access is lauded as a right to be pursued, as our tax dollars go to fund the very act meant to end our lives, which has left deep emotional, mental and for many, physical scars, as our experiences and suffering are overlooked or played down as political fodder. Every story is important. Every experience deserves to be heard.
However, when we hear stories about abortion, the narrative is woefully one-sided. … Is there space in the abortion narrative for stories like mine, men and women who are alive today after surviving failed abortion procedures? Is there space in the abortion narrative for stories like my biological mother’s, women who have been coerced or forced into an abortion? Is there space for the mothers who experience failed abortions? Do we ever create space for the stories of women who regret their abortions? What would happen if we did? The most important stories, though, are likely the ones that you’ll never hear. The stories of the little boys and girls who will never live outside of the womb. In all of the discussion about women’s rights, some lose sight of the fact that without the right to life, there are no other rights. This is the greatest human rights issue we are facing as a country.
I often hear the argument that abortion should be safe, legal and rare. But this legislation is a fundamental departure from this concept. In fact, contrary to “safe, legal and rare” it seeks to make abortion normal and readily available, without regard to the risks and complications experienced by the women and girls who have abortions. Abortion without restriction is radical and not the will of the people. …
Ending the cycle of pain and trauma and finding hope and healing are essential investments in our community and the future of our families. No other organization exists that understands, is committed to, and is equipped to facilitate this critical investment in these victim’s lives like The Abortion Survivors Network.