In 1977, a nurse found baby Melissa Ohden in a hospital trash can, screaming and crying after surviving a late-term abortion procedure. Now married with kids and a motivational speaker living in Missouri, Ohden is sharing her story along with not only a pro-life message but also one of forgiveness.
"I discovered that my birth mother, aged 19, had been forced into the abortion by her own mother, who was an educational nurse at the hospital," recounted Ohden, according to Daily Mail. "She was heavily sedated and didn't know that I had been born alive ... It's been a long and painful journey from shame and anger to faith and forgiveness. But I refuse to be poisoned by bitterness -- that's no way to live."
Ohden's grandmother reportedly did not approve of Ohden's father and injected the pregnant woman with a saline solution over the course of five days, a procedure that is no longer administered in the U.S. due to its failure rate.
They believed that Ohden's mom was 20 weeks pregnant, though experts say she was likely around 31 weeks.
Weighing less than 3 pounds, Ohden suffered a host of health problems that included seizures, jaundice and respiratory trouble, though she miraculously pulled through and grew up healthy in a loving adoptive family.
When she learned that she had been aborted and believed she was an unwanted child, Ohden fell into a depressive cycle that she coped with through drinking, sex and an eating disorder.
She eventually pulled herself out of it and began searching for her birth family, first locating her grandfather, who was not in contact with Ohden's mother and led her to believe that "something sinister had gone on."
Eventually Ohden found a set of her medical records that erroneously included her biological parents' names, allowing her to track them down.
"My mother had no idea I was alive ... can you imagine?" she recounted. "We chatted for three years before we met. I think we were both scared of rejection ... When we finally met in May last year, I could see her in the distance getting nearer and part of me wanted to run away. It was scary."
Ohden's mom told her, "I was robbed of you."
"She carries a lot of guilt and lives with many regrets but I told her I don't blame her at all," Ohden added.
She also has forgiven her grandmother and her father, the latter of whom she believes lived with guilt for not stopping the abortion. He died shortly after she reached out to him.
"We live in a culture that tries to silence stories like ours," Ohden told Reflector. "Most people really don't know that abortions can fail and children can go on to live ... So we do want to be able to put a face to that and provide information, but the other part of that is that we want to provide support to other survivors."