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The Survivors of Abortion

It's something that is rarely discussed, but sometimes children do survive abortion attempts. It's impossible to know exactly how many survive. However, here are a few stories of individuals we know have survived abortion attmepts. Some of them escaped relatively unharmed. Others were profoundly injured by their abortions. Their stories deserved to be told, regardless. Where possible, a photo of the abortion survivor has been provided so that you can attach a real, human face to the victims of abortions, who are so often dehumanized by efforts to defend abortion.

What can we say to these people to sympathize with them and rationalize abortion at the same time? "We’re sorry that you’re missing a limb as a result of that failed abortion, but that abortion attempt was in your mother’s best interest as well as yours and society’s and the world's"? Or, "Your injuries are awful; better technology and skill should have been available to abort you correctly so that you would not have lived to either 'enslave' your mother or suffer yourself"? D.N. Rivera

gianna jessenGianna Jessen
On April 6, 1977, Gianna's 17 year old birthmother (named Tina) sought a saline abortion at seven months pregnant. Saline abortions involve injecting a caustic saline solution into the amniotic fluid, which (normally) causes the fetus to be scalded to death and then delivered dead. In this case, however, things didn't go according to plan. In the early hours of April 7th, Tina went into labor and gave birth to a living baby girl, Gianna. Fortunately for Gianna, she was born before the abortionist had arrived at the clinic for the day. As a result, instead of being killed at birth by the abortionist, she was transported to a hospital. She was severely injured by the abortion attempt, requiring a three month stay in the hospital, but she survived to be placed in a foster family specializing in high risk babies.

As a result of injuries from the abortion, Gianna was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Doctors believed she would never be able to sit up, let alone walk. She surpassed all expectations. Today she is able to run, dance, and walk...and has even taken up rock climbing. She has also become a tireless advocate for the pro-life cause.

Many would expect Gianna to be bitter or angry about the fact her birthmother tried to abort her, especially at such a late point in the pregnancy. However, Gianna does not have any hatred towards her birthmother. She has forgiven her mother for the traumatic circumstances of her birth and treats the post-abortion women who hear her speak with compassion.

On April 22, 1996, Gianna testified before the Constitution Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee on the issue of abortion. Sadly, out of 13 members of the subcommittee, only 2 were willing to listen to her testimony; abortion supporters boycotted the meeting.

[Text of Gianna's Testimony to the Subcommittee | More Detailed Account of Gianna's Life | Order GIANNA: ABORTED AND LIVED TO TELL ABOUT IT, a book about Gianna's life]

Ana Rosa Rodriguez - click for bigger picture Ana Rosa Rodriguez
Look at the picture of Ana Rosa Rodriguez on the left. At first glance, she might look like an average little girl to you. However, if you look closely, you'll notice that this child is missing her right arm. That's because her arm was ripped off in the process of an abortion on New York's Lower East Side in October of 1991. Ana Rosa was 32 weeks old at the time of the abortion. It was performed by legal abortionist Abu Hayat. Rosa, Ana Rosa's mother (who was only 20 years old at the time), had told Hayat that she had changed her mind and didn’t want to go through with the abortion.

"He said that it was impossible to stop, that I had to continue," Rosa told New York Newsday. According to Rosa, Hayat’s assistants held her down while he sedated her. When she awoke, she was told that the abortion was incomplete and that she should come back the following day. That evening, however, she experienced increasing pain and bleeding. Her mother took her to Jamaica Hospital by taxi, where, five hours later, baby Ana Rosa was born. Aside from the loss of her right arm, Ana Rosa is a perfectly healthy little girl.

As unfortunate as the maiming of Ana Rosa was, she and her mother are very lucky they escaped from Hayat without further injury. Other incidents Hayat, a member of the National Abortion Federation, was involved in:

Even though all of the above happened before Ana Rosa's brush with Hayat, these previous incidents were not considered "serious enough" by New York authorities to take any action against Hayat. The maiming of Ana Rosa may have also gone ignored except that it drew intense media scrutiny. When news broke of Hayat's arrest in connection with the assault on Ana Rosa, at least seven women called a police hotline to claim he had also botched their abortions.

Heidi Huffman and her mom Heidi Huffman
In 1978, Tina Huffman was a pregnant, unwed 17-year-old from a broken, dysfunctional home. Her mom and dad, as well as her boyfriend’s parents, adamantly insisted she had only one option: abortion. Tina yielded to their demands and had a suction abortion. But the abortionist "missed" Baby Heidi, even though he took most of the placenta and amniotic fluid. Heidi was delivered by C-section several months later. From her earliest years, Heidi attended pro-life rallies, programs and conferences with her mom, and then graduated to picketing and sidewalk counseling at abortion clinics.

Heidi herself says, "I believe that all young people are survivors of abortion, just like I am, because they too could have been killed under the current policy of our government, which declared us "non-persons" when we were in the womb."

Sarah SmithSarah Smith
In 1970, three years before Roe vs. Wade knocked down all laws against abortion in the United States, California had already legalized abortion. Sarah’s mother, Betty, had an abortion in Los Angeles. Neither she nor the the abortionist realized she was carrying twins. As a result, one of the twins--Sarah--survived the abortion.

"Somehow, miraculously, I survived!" says Sarah. "My twin brother wasn’t so lucky. Andrew was aborted and we lost him forever. Several weeks later, my mother was shocked to feel me kicking in her womb. She already had five children and she knew what it felt like when a baby kicked in the womb. She instantly knew that somehow she was still pregnant." Sarah’s mother went back to the doctor and told him she was still pregnant, that she had made a big mistake and that she wanted to keep this baby.

"To this day, my mother deeply regrets that abortion," says Sarah. "I know the pain is unbearable for her at times when she looks at me and knows she aborted my twin brother. Mom says ‘the protective hand of Almighty God saved my life,’ that God’s hand covered and hid me in her womb, and protected me from the scalpel of death."

Sarah survived the abortion, but was born with bilateral, congenital dislocated hips and many other physical handicaps. Nine days after her birth she was taken to an orthopedic surgeon who applied a cast to each of her tiny legs. "My mom would remove these casts with pliers every Monday morning and take me to the doctor to have new casts put on," she recounts. "At six weeks I was put into my first body cast. Many surgeries and body casts followed over the next few years."

Sarah’s life has been painful in many ways, and her future holds more painful surgeries for her. Yet Sarah says she continually thanks God she survived the abortion. But the pain is not hers alone and not merely physical. The emotional pain continues, she says, for everyone in her family. "In memory of my brother Andrew, we bought a memorial gravestone and placed it in a cemetery in Southern California. It reads: Andrew James Smith, Twin Brother of Sarah - in our hearts you’ll always be alive - November 1970."

On April 24, 1996, Sarah Smith delivered a powerful address at the international "Congress for Life" in Rome, organized by the Legionaries of Christ to celebrate the first anniversary of Pope John Paul II’s encyclical letter Evangelium Vitae - The Gospel of Life. Sarah told the conference how she came to discover the dreadful secret that she had somehow intuitively felt:

"I did not know of the abortion until I was 12 years old. I grew up feeling that I was the same as my friends, except for having numerous surgeries and physical complications. The only difference I felt was an incredible loneliness and a knowledge that something was missing. I never felt whole.

"I battled with severe depression and found myself dying of anorexia nervosa at age 12, when my mother knew it was time to tell me the truth. She sat next to me and took my hand and looked me in the eyes and said, 'Sarah, you are a twin. I aborted your twin brother and tried to abort you. Please know I did not know what I was doing and I pray someday you are able to forgive me. I love you and need you to know that you are a welcome part of our family.'

"At that moment I knew what I had been missing all my life and that I was called to something much greater than I had knowledge of. Immediately I felt the overwhelming pain of the knowledge that I should be dead.

"As I stand before you today," Sarah told her Rome audience, "I am painfully aware that this is only possible because my twin brother took a scalpel for me, and I stand in his place and memory, giving him honor and a face. Statistics are coldly impersonal and cannot convey the human tragedy of the abortion slaughter. Thirty-two million babies [have been] killed in the United States alone. Yet every one had a face, a life, a Creator who loved them and created them in His image. As you look at me today, you realize that I am no different than you, yet I stand before you today a representative of the dead - a representative of the innocent lives who today may lose their lives. Who will speak for them?"

sarah and her mom

Baby Grace
On August 4, 1999, "Baby Grace" was born at Good Samaritan Hospital in Dayton, Ohio. She was a victim of an abortion clinic run by Martin Haskell, who helped "pioneer" the partial-birth abortion procedure. The partial birth abortion technique requires two days of dilation of the mother's cervix before the child can finally be pulled out of the womb feet first and killed. Baby Grace was born when her mother went into labor prematurely, during the dilation phase. According to Dr. Haskell, these premature births (in a statement on the Baby Grace incident, Haskell's clinic referred to Baby Grace as a "miscarriage") happen in one out of one hundred cases. Baby Grace was born during her mother’s 26th week of pregnancy. She survived and is expected to do well.

Ximena RenaertsXimena Renaerts
Ximena's odessy with Vancouver General Hospital began on Dec. 16, 1985, the day she was born. After attempting an abortion at a free-standing mill in Bellingham, Wash. Ximena's birth mother entered VGH, where she gave birth. According to court documents, staff delivered the child into a "hat"--a plastic pot--and then senior nurse Vera Wood whisked her away. Ximena was placed in a room "where dead fetuses were stored," even though she was "moving, gasping, (and) crying weakly."

Court documents say Wood checked back some 26 minutes later, to find the child still alive. A nursing supervisor was called and arrived almost an hour after Ximena's birth. She found the child still in the "hat," uncovered, on a stainless-steel counter. By the time the Infant Transport Team arrived, Ximena had suffered a severe loss of heat, which in turn caused extensive and permanent brain damage.

Ximena's adoptive family eventually sued VGH for $10 million. Hospital officials petitioned to have the case heard before a judge only, but the B.C. Supreme Court ruled it would be best heard before a jury. In June of this year, facing the prospect of a public trial, the hospital settled out of court for an undisclosed amount of money. All family members will say is that Ximena will be well taken care of.

Meanwhile, pro-life activists are calling for criminal charges to be laid. B.C.'s pro-abortion Attorney-General Ujjal Dosanjh initially balked at the idea of investigating, but then instructed his criminal justice branch to contact Vancouver police. As of press time, no announcement had been made on whether further action will be taken. The B.C. College of Physicians and Surgeons have claimed the incident is out of their jurisdiction.

VGH continues to face heat over the case. Pro-lifers are now handing out literature outside the hospital, warning women of the events surrounding Ximena's birth. Some pro-lifers are suggesting VGH's recent request for a no-protest "bubble zone" around the facility is an attempt to cover up the case and hide it from patients and possible donors.

But it seems unlikely officials will be able to put a lid on the story, since it may have happened before. A May 30, 1986 Vancouver Sun article quotes nurse Kathryn Larouche, who spent a year working in the VGH ward where abortions were committed. Larouche stated she saw three infants "die after they were delivered live."

"We were supposed to turn the other way," Larouche said. "We weren't supposed to do anything. There were a couple of people ... I don't want to say who. They told us, ‘Don't do anything. Leave it alone. It will die.'" The events left such emotional scars, Larouche eventually resigned. Five other nurses left with her.

VGH officials insist that, according to their records, there has been no other case where a "viable" infant was born and allowed to die. They have not provided an explanation of what "viable" means.

Those Who Didn't Make It

The below stories are those of some babies who, sadly, did not survive for very long after their abortion. Nonetheless, their stories deserve to be heard and remembered.

Baby Hope: Another Victim of Partial Birth Abortion
Like Baby Grace, Baby Hope was born when her mother went into premature labor after the first day of dilation for a partial birth abortion. Baby Hope is believed to have been around 22 weeks old when she was born. Doctors decided she was not well-developed enough to survive, and so she struggled for life for three hours until dying. Baby Hope was fortunate in one respect: She was held and comforted by a compassionate emergency room technician as she died, rather than being brutally killed by partial birth abortion as she was supposed to be.
[The Full Story of Baby Hope's Birth and Death | Senator Mike Dewine on "The Lessons of Baby Hope"]

Sarah Brown: A Silent Witness to the Pro-life Cause
By Liz Townsend, National Right to Life News
One-month-old Jacob would not be alive today if it weren't for little Sarah Brown. Jacob's mother had scheduled an abortion but then heard Sarah's remarkable story of having survived an abortion attempt. When she saw the precious little girl, instead of keeping the appointment, Jacob Alan's mother gave him the gift of life.

Marykay Brown, Sarah's adoptive mother, told NRL News this was just one example of the many people whose lives her daughter touched during her brief life. Sarah, who was five, died September 28 from complications stemming from the abortion attempt. Yet as Mrs. Brown and her family continue to speak about Sarah to audiences across the country, her story will continue to touch hearts and change lives.

Sarah's story begins July 13, 1993. She had spent 36 peaceful weeks in her mother's womb before the needle filled with poison stabbed her in the brain three times. By all odds the assault should have killed her, but something inside Sarah refused to give up. Two days later she was born in a Wichita, Kansas, hospital.

Sarah's birth mother signed away her rights to her daughter almost as soon as the seven-pound, five-ounce abortion survivor was born with visible puncture wounds above her left eyebrow and at the base of her skull. Without knowing her whole story or the extent of her injuries, Bill and Marykay Brown obtained temporary custody of the little girl within 24 hours of her birth and adopted her 30 days later. The Browns heard about Sarah from a pro-life attorney who knew they wanted to adopt a special-needs child.

The toxin that the abortionist injected into her brain caused injuries that became apparent and progressively worse as Sarah grew. "For the first few months she seemed to be progressing normally, although she was blind," said Marykay Brown. "She had acute hearing, and was beginning to try to speak."

However, at about five or six months Sarah suffered a stroke from which she never fully recovered. Brown said she showed awareness of her environment and her family, but never spoke or walked.

"She recognized us and learned to smile," Mrs. Brown said.

Sarah also discovered a unique way of communicating. A machine monitored her at night and would sound an alarm if Sarah stopped breathing. "She learned that if she held her breath the monitor would go off," Brown said. "We would jump out of bed and she would be grinning at us. That was how she got attention."

The Browns' seven other children, ranging in age from 18 to 12, accepted Sarah into their hearts too. "I can't remember a time when someone wasn't holding her, talking to her, playing with her," Brown told NRL News. "Sarah was the baby of the family. We're all having a real hard time coping with her death."

Sarah had progressive airway disease, caused when she ingested some of the poison during the abortion attempt. Before her death she spent a short time in the hospital and the family knew she was getting weaker, according to Brown. Sarah died at home on the morning of September 28, surrounded by her loving family. "Sarah died the most peaceful death," Brown said. "There was no struggling. All of us were with her."

Sarah's corneas were donated to two children. "It does my heart good that there are children who can see because of Sarah," Brown said. "A little girl who was blind gave sight to someone."

Sharing her story has helped Brown cope. "Each time I speak about her it gets a little bit easier," she said.

But sharing Sarah's remarkable story helps Marykay Brown in still another way. She also speaks about her own abortion when she was 19 and the long road she traveled to healing.

"It has come full circle for me," Brown said. "I talk about what it's like to be post-abortive and about the forgiveness God gives and also about abortion from the child's point of view. I've watched Sarah change people's lives."

The Browns have also begun to spread the message of hope and healing on an individual level by helping pregnant women in crisis with financial and other assistance. They started a group called Sarah Ministries and are currently helping three women whose babies are due next spring. Marykay Brown said they hope to expand this ministry and give women the help they need to choose life.

"I believe Sarah's ministry will mushroom now that she's gone," Brown said. "She's an advocate in heaven now."

Anyone interested in inviting the Browns to speak should call Lynn Vorak at (316) 722-8513. To contribute to the Browns' ministry, write to Sarah Ministries, Acct. #64207412, c/o Imprise Bank, 100 N. Meridian, Valley Center, KS 67417.


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