Melissa Ohden and the “Right to Choose”

July 29, 2019

When Melissa Ohden was in her mother’s womb, an attempt was made to abort her. The amniotic sac was injected with saline solution to poison her and to chemically burn her skin from the inside out. Instead of burning her to death in 48 hours or less as the saline abortion was intended to do, Melissa fought for her life while her tiny body soaked in the solution for five days. As it turned out, she was several weeks older than the doctor had estimated. Labor was induced and Melissa was born alive prematurely at 31 weeks.

Melissa is now a beautiful 41-year-old woman and is a wife and mother of two children. She has a master’s degree in Social Work, authored the book You Carried Me: A Daughter’s Memoir, and founded The Abortion Survivors Network. She is one of the most passionate, motherly, and confident women I have ever met.

I recently read You Carried Me and I implore everyone to do the same. Melissa is one of hundreds of documented abortion survivors. Her testimony to having survived an attempted abortion at her maximum level of helplessness is heart-wrenching yet beautiful; her understandable feelings of anger and confusion were transformed into reconciliation, forgiveness, and love. She holds no anger in her heart towards her transgressors. Ohden uses her unique existence to fiercely fight for the children who, like her, are unwanted by at least one person with the power to take their lives away from them. Most babies who undergo abortion do not make it out alive like she did.

Only a couple of days after reading You Carried Me, I met Melissa Ohden. She was one of two pro-life witnesses testifying at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on June 4, 2019 called “Threats to Reproductive Rights in America.” In response to many states’ recent bills restricting abortion, six pro-choice witnesses advocated for the so-called woman’s “right to choose” abortion. Melissa was one of the two women testifying for the unborn child’s right to life.

Observing this hearing and listening to Melissa’s visceral testimony, I was inundated with the hard reality that a woman’s so called “right to choose” is irreconcilable with the universal human right to life. This is the agonizing irony of the lack of pro-choice logic: anyone alive today who advocates for the “pro-choice” side was not aborted. Pro-choicers were given their right to life, but they advocate for a woman’s right to take away the life that they were all given. Ronald Reagan once said, “I’ve noticed that everybody that is for abortion has already been born.”

In the 2018 “Abortion Worldwide Report,” Thomas W. Jacobson wrote, “The first inalienable human right is the right to life, which includes the right of self-defense and the duty to protect innocent human life.” The duty to protect the innocent must always be undivided from the sanctity of life and our right to it. If the right to life of certain members of society is not protected, no one else’s right to life is secure. This is bolstered by the laws of logic; we must remain consistent in our thinking. Jacobson continues, “As clearly evident in the natural law and in Scripture, murdering another human being regardless of the motive or rationale, can never be a ‘human right.’”

If we do not intensely protect everyone’s right to life, there is no sense in exercising or fighting for literally any other right. No other right has meaning if we aren’t all first given the right to life. Melissa Ohden’s right to free speech is null and void if she had been aborted, like the pro-choice agenda would have it. As individuals and as a society, our allegiance must first go to protecting the right to life. This necessitates that we do not believe in a woman’s “right” to an abortion.

The question we must ask of those who identify as “pro-choice” is, “What exactly is being chosen?” To argue for a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion is to argue for a woman’s right to take away an innocent, defenseless life. If Melissa’s mother really had the “right to choose,” then Melissa did not have the right to live and should not be here today. Melissa happened to survive because the attempt to kill her failed. The right to life cannot begin after a person is deemed “wanted.” The “right to choose” is irreconcilable with not only Melissa Ohden’s existence, but all our existence. It is a tragic irony that human beings who evaded the terrible fate of abortion are advocating for that very fate to be forced onto another innocent person.

Interestingly, one of the pro-choice panelists at the “Threats to Reproductive Rights” hearing choked up and could not answer the question when asked, “Didn’t Melissa have the right to live?” Perhaps it was because the panelist realized the truth: that Melissa does have the right to live, and that right began in the womb.

Lauren Kaylor is an intern for Life, Culture, and Women’s Advocacy at Family Research Council.