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‘Abandoned as medical waste’: Abortion survivor shares her story

A woman who survived a failed abortion has revealed how she was saved by a nurse who heard her crying as she lay abandoned among medical waste at a US hospital.

Melissa Ohden was expected to be delivered stillborn after her 19-year-old mother attempted an abortion using a toxic saline solution, over five days, in 1977.

However, against the odds, Melissa survived and was born alive weighing just 2Ib 14oz (1kg).

Despite this, Melissa’s grandmother told her daughter that the abortion had been successful before encouraging medics to abandon the baby girl as ‘medical waste’.

Thankfully, a nurse heard Melissa’s weak cries and gasps for breath and rushed her to a neonatal intensive care unit.

The little fighter then went on to flourish with no long-lasting health issues.

Now, aged 42, Melissa has shared the powerful story of her adoption and reunion with her birth mother with The Sun.  

Melissa, who runs the Abortion Survivors Network connecting people who have survived abortions, says she only found out she was an abortion survivor when her sister, aged 14, without thinking said “at least my parents wanted me”.

At first Melissa was confused, but as the realisation kicked in – and she sat down with her adoptive parents – it led to a downward spiral in her mental health.

She said: “After finding out, I internalised my pain and let everyone think I was fine, but inside I was devastated.

“I struggled in a huge way and started drinking. I couldn’t control the very way I came into the world so I freaked out.

“However, I got through it with a lot of soul searching and aged 19, I decided to hunt down my biological parents.”

Five years later, aged 19, Melissa took the bold decision to track down the mother who had attempted to abort her.

It was a process that took more than a decade, but eventually, she found her and uncovered a shocking truth.

“She [Melissa’s mother] had been coerced by her now-dead mother into the abortion. Aged 19, she hadn’t wanted it.

“She thought it had been successful and when it wasn’t and I was born alive her mother told staff I was ‘medical waste’ and to put me aside.”

Recalling the moment she was finally reunited with her mother, Ruth, Melissa said: “As soon as we saw each other we just hugged and hugged.

“She said, ‘I never got to hold you.’

“Now we see each other all the time. We both live in Kansas City Missouri, and my children call her nana.

“There are still unanswered questions for us both, but what we do know is that although I was the intended victim in that abortion, she was a secondary victim. And we both continue to choose to rise above being victimised. We choose to thrive. To live. To love. To forgive. To give to this world.”

Melissa’s mother Ruth shared: “One of the best aspects of getting to know Melissa is discovering all the things we have in common.

“Comparing physical similarities was fun the first day we met – Melissa inherited some striking and beautiful features from her biological father, but I think we have the same nose and a similar shape to our smiles.

“We really looked alike when we were younger. If you put a photo of Melissa as a young teenager next to one of me from high school, you’d have a hard time telling who is who.

“Over the last couple of years, we’ve discovered we share much more than physical characteristics. We are both passionate and driven; we tend to throw ourselves completely into whatever project we are working on. We are both empathetic, spending a lot of time worrying about others.”

Sofia Khan

Earlier this year, a grieving mother relived the harrowing moment she went into hospital for an abortion but instead gave birth to a live, crying, baby boy who died in her arms.

Doctors diagnosed Sofia Khan’s son with spina bifida during a routine ultrasound scan 20 weeks into the pregnancy and pressured her into an unwanted abortion.

At 25 weeks pregnant Sofia travelled to St Mary’s Hospital, Manchester to terminate the pregnancy.

But, before the abortion procedure she felt her son move. Sofia alerted midwives but had her concerns dismissed.

Ten hours later, she gave birth and was stunned to hear her baby son crying.

“I thought I was going mad. I thought I was hearing the cry because that’s what I wanted – my baby to be alive,” Sofia said.

“The midwife went into shock. She was screaming for help, she ran with the baby into the corridor.

“They brought him back and said: ‘What do you want us to do?’ and I didn’t know what they meant. I held him and cuddled him and told him how much I loved him.

“He was such a fighter. He had a huge hole in his spine and he was very disabled, and yet he hung on to life for an hour.

“I can’t help thinking that he was determined to have one cuddle with his mummy.”

Sofia and her husband named their son Mohammed Rehman. They gave him a full funeral and he is buried near their home.In 2017, a spokesman for the Department of health, claimed“information on the number of live births following termination of pregnancy is not collected centrally.”

Help stop abortion up to birth for babies with disabilities including Down's syndrome & club foot

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Dear reader

In 2020, the UK Government imposed an extreme abortion regime on Northern Ireland, which included a provision that legalised abortion right up to birth for disabilties including Down’s syndrome, cleft lip and club foot.

A new Bill has been launched at the Northern Ireland assembly that will remove the current provision that allows abortion for ‘severe fetal impairment’.

It is under these grounds in the regulations that babies with disabilities including Down’s syndrome, cleft lip and club foot can currently be singled out for abortion in Northern Ireland because of their disability and can be aborted right up to birth.

Before the new abortion regime was imposed on Northern Ireland in 2020, disability-selective abortion for conditions such as Down’s syndrome, cleft lip and club foot was not legal and there was a culture of welcoming and supporting people with these disabilities rather than eliminating them.

This is reflected directly in the latest figures (2016) from the Department of Health in Northern Ireland, which show that while there were 52 children born with Down’s syndrome in Northern Ireland, in the same year only 1 child from Northern Ireland with Down’s syndrome was aborted in England and Wales. 

This contrasts with the situation in the rest of the United Kingdom where disability-selective abortion has been legal since 1967.

The latest available figures show that 90% of children diagnosed with Down’s syndrome before birth are aborted in England and Wales.

We are, therefore, asking people like you to take 30 seconds of your time and add your support to the campaign to stop abortion up to birth for disabilities including Down’s syndrome, cleft lip and club foot in Northern Ireland.

If you live in Northern Ireland: 
Ask your MLAs to vote to stop abortion up to birth for disabilities including Down’s syndrome, cleft lip and club foot:

If you live outside Northern Ireland: 
Show your support by signing this petition in support of the Bill:

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Help stop abortion up to birth for babies with disabilities including Down's syndrome & club foot

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