Melissa Ohden, a 34-year-old international pro-life speaker and advocate, is amazed by "how many people, even those who have been involved in the pro-life movement for decades, have never heard of abortion survivors before."
Ohden is the survivor of a failed saline infusion abortion that took place in 1977. She was born out of the whole ordeal physically unscathed and soon became a successful individual. She is the recipient of a Master’s Degree in Social Work and has applied her knowledge to the fields of substance abuse, mental health, domestic violence/sexual assault counseling and child welfare.
In 2008, Melissa Ohden gave birth to her first child Olivia. In honor of this occasion, Ohden founded "For Olivia’s Sake," an organization that seeks to peacefully raise awareness of the intergenerational impact of abortion on men, women, children, families and numerous communities. Ohden's personal struggle and strive for pro-life awareness is profiled in the new documentary, "A Voice for Life."
Melissa Ohden spoke to The Christian Post about religious understanding, how it has helped her throughout her life, the abortion issue and her documentary.
CP: How have your religious beliefs impacted you throughout your journey?
My religious beliefs have been the foundation of my ability to not only survive, but thrive in the face of the failed abortion attempt meant to end my life, and ultimately overcome the difficulties and obstacles that I have faced in my journey as a survivor. Although I understand the scientific facts about human development, for someone like me, my faith has solidified for me that although there is no "medical reason" why I survived and why I’m perfectly healthy, (which doctors have indicated to me time and time again), there is a much greater reason that I survived - God Himself.
As people will see and hear in A Voice for Life, God’s presence in my life has been unmistakable. From time to time, individuals who aren’t pro-life or aren’t believers will hear my story and say that it can’t be true, that somehow I have to be making it up. I can understand where that comes from. I’ve lived with this reality of my life for over 20 years now, and sometimes I have a hard time wrapping my brain around it.
Yet it is my faith that makes it all make sense to me. God’s fingerprints are all over my life; from surviving the failed abortion, to finding out the truth about my life through my older sister’s unplanned pregnancy; to finding out I was living in the same city as my birthfather; to meeting medical professionals who saved my life and individuals who prayed outside of St. Luke’s Hospital in 1977 for a child to be spared from abortion; to giving birth to our daughter at the same hospital where my life was supposed to end.
The list goes on and on about the amazing things that God has done and continues to do in my life. I never planned for this life. I could never have thought up, nonetheless, orchestrated any of the amazing events in my life.
CP: What is your opinion of the anti-abortion "Personhood Amendment" that recently failed to pass in Mississippi?
Although I believe that the pro-life movement is a very tight-knit family overall, the failed Personhood Amendment in Mississippi has highlighted the fragmentation that exists within the movement. That is the greatest concern to me. Regardless of what strategy one supports when it comes to legislation, be it personhood or incrementalism, regardless of what one believes about the use of other strategies such as the use of graphic pictures of aborted babies, I believe that we owe it to each other as pro-lifers, as Christians, and we owe it to the children who we are working to save each day from abortion to be respectful of one another’s viewpoints, to accept our differences, and yet find those areas in which we can work together to make a difference.
CP: What message are you trying to tell through your film "A Voice for Life?"
Although there are numerous pro-life films out there currently that are making an impact, A Voice for Life provides a powerful and unique perspective of abortion through the eyes of someone who is rarely heard from when it comes to abortion: the child - me. It never ceases to amaze me how many people, even those who have been involved in the pro-life movement for decades, have never heard of abortion survivors before.
Yet it isn’t just my story, the heartfelt interviews with members of my adoptive family, in-depth conversations with me about what it’s like to be a survivor, about the roots of my faith, that I believe make A Voice for Life a truly unique film.
What strikes me about the film is that it touches on multiple dimensions of abortion-the physical, emotional, and spiritual consequences on women and men, the societal impact of it, the raising up of a new generation of pro-lifers, the life-saving work of pregnancy centers, other options that exist in the face of an unplanned pregnancy, including parenthood and adoption - and all of this is done through the sharing of other individuals’ deeply personal, profound stories.
That’s what I think truly changes hearts and minds when it comes to abortion, and I’ve been seeing it happen through this film; putting a face to the abortion debate, giving a voice to the children who lose their lives, to women, men, families and communities who are impacted by it - by breaking the silence about a topic that so many don’t ever want to discuss, even within the church - it has a huge impact, a positive impact.
And that’s what we want to do with this film. We want to save the lives of children like me, we want to bring hope and healing to those who have been touched by abortion, we want to inspire and convict individuals and groups to get involved in saving and transforming lives. People can look at me or hear me speak and think that obviously I’ve been given a great calling in my life - to be the voice for the 53 million children in the U.S. who have lost their lives since Roe v. Wade. But the reality is this; we are all called to be a voice for life.
The video below is a trailer for Melissa Ohden's documentary, "A Voice for Life":