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Melissa Ohden

From horror to hope: An abortion survivor's story

Melissa Ohden’s story is not easy to hear.

“My mother meant to scald me to death in her womb,” says the survivor of a saline abortion performed in 1977 in Sioux City, Iowa. "I was left for dead, until a nurse discovered I was gasping for breath,” she explains. She was 2 pounds, 14 ounces.

Despite a poor prognosis, Melissa, who recently visited Priests for Life’s headquarters, was adopted by a family who already had an adopted daughter. "Until I was 14, I grew up thinking I was living a normal life,” she recalls. She knew she was adopted but didn’t know the circumstances until her sister, then 18, got pregnant and considered abortion. Her parents told her sister the devastating truth, and her sister alerted Melissa.

Confusion and shock were compounded by survivor’s guilt when she thought of the thousands of babies lost every day to abortion.

“I forgave them a long time ago,” she said of her birth parents and grandparents, but her story made her realize that abortion is a tragedy for generations of families.

A social worker and counselor, she began speaking publicly about the abortion in 2007. A year later, her story came full circle when, with her husband Ryan at her side, she gave birth to their daughter, Olivia, “in the same hospital where I was supposed to die.”

Visit to read more of her story.

Purchase Melissa's DVD "A Voice for Life" at

The Abortion Survivor's Network -



Priests for Life
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