Gianna Jessen, Jim Kelly, Sarah Smith, Sarah Brown, Ana Rosa Rodriguez, Baby Claire, Baby Grace, Baby Hope. These are not names well known in America. But they should be. They are the names of a few of the survivors of the longest, deadliest war in U.S. history: the 30-year Abortion War.
Wars are brutal, terrible things, inflicting death, destruction, and misery on whole populations. One of the most terrible and common features of war is its destructive impact on moral conscience and common decency. The "enemy" is frequently reduced through propaganda to subhuman status to justify the most atrocious behavior by "our" side. In the past three decades of the Abortion War, nearly 40 million children have been brutally murdered in the womb in the United States alone. This has been possible, largely, because of the effectiveness of an insidious propaganda campaign that has succeeded in convincing millions of Americans that the defenseless, unborn child is not a baby, a human, a tiny person, a gift from God, but merely a depersonalized blob of "tissue," to be disposed of if it interferes with one’s life plans or career trajectory.
Sarah Smith, Ana Rosa Rodriguez, Gianna Jessen, and their fellow survivors are unanswerable, living refutations of this incredible lie. They are "blobs of tissue" who survived "botched" abortions. Against all odds, their lives were preserved to bear witness against the spirit of this age which counsels that convenience, self-indulgence, and self-worship are the highest good. The refusal of the pro-abortion Establishment media to report their stories is understandable; any coverage of these survivors devastatingly exposes the lie. Any photograph of these miraculous survivors instantly, visually establishes the fact of their humanness.
Gianna Jessen is a beautiful, bubbly, talented young lady whose singing and testimony have delighted, moved, and inspired audiences worldwide. Twenty-two years ago, Gianna was scheduled for an appointment with death. Because her mother was already in the 24th week of her pregnancy, the abortionist opted for the saline method. The doctor injected a saline (salt water) solution into the amniotic fluid surrounding baby Gianna. In this type of abortion, the caustic, toxic saline solution slowly poisons the baby while burning its tender skin. Gianna was supposed to be delivered dead the following day. But God, apparently, had other plans for this little one. Gianna was born alive, though small, premature, and badly burned and injured from the saline abortion. A nurse rushed her from the abortion clinic to a hospital, where she spent the first three months of her infancy. She was then placed with a foster family specializing in high-risk babies.
The doctors said Gianna would never be able to sit up by herself, let alone walk, run, jump, and play like "normal" children. The abortion procedure had deprived her brain of oxygen and had left her with severe cerebral palsy. But at the age of three she was defying the medical experts and walking with the aid of a walker. She has undergone a number of painful operations that have enhanced her muscular control and coordination. This writer first interviewed Gianna in 1991, when she was 14 years old ("The Lone Survivor," December 31, 1991). "I still limp," the effervescent teenager said, "but I can walk, run, dance, and jump. Maybe not as well as you or a lot of other people, but I do O.K. for me." In a recent telephone interview, Gianna told The New American that she has added rock climbing to her repertoire of athletic skills.
For the past decade, since the age of 12, when she discovered the truth about her birth, Gianna has been a highly effective champion for the pro-life cause. With an angelic singing voice, a winning personality, and a uniquely compelling and heroic survival story, she has dramatically impacted audiences worldwide. She has spoken at schools, churches, and pro-life conferences throughout the United States and in England, Ireland, Spain, India, Australia, and Mexico.
She also testified before the Constitution Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee on April 22, 1996. On that occasion she said: "I am happy to be alive. I almost died. Every day I thank God for life. I do not consider myself a by-product of conception, a clump of tissue, or any other of the titles given to a child in the womb. I do not consider any person conceived to be any of those things."
I have met other survivors of abortion. They are all thankful for life.... When I speak, I speak not only for myself, but for the other survivors … and also those who cannot yet speak....
Today, a baby is a baby when convenient. It is tissue or otherwise when the time is not right. A baby is a baby when miscarriage takes place at two, three, four months. A baby is called a tissue or clumps of cells when an abortion takes place at two, three, four months. Why is that? I see no difference.
"The best thing I can show you to defend life is my life," Gianna told the lawmakers. "It has been a great gift." Yet only two of the 13 congressmen on the subcommittee were on hand to hear Gianna’s moving testimony. Abortion supporter Patricia Schroeder (D-Colo.), who boycotted the hearing, protested that it was intended to "undermine the public’s consistent and overwhelming support for Roe v. Wade."
But other audiences have been more interested in, and more receptive to, Gianna’s story. Teen audiences, especially, have responded enthusiastically to her Christian testimony and her courageous advocacy of teen chastity in an age of "safe sex" promiscuity. Although her amazing story has been largely censored by the pro-abort media, thanks to The Maury Povich Show, The 700 Club, and Focus on the Family, Gianna’s story has reached national television and radio audiences. In 1995, Dr. James Dobson’s Focus on the Family published a biography of Gianna, entitled Gianna: Aborted and Lived to Tell About It.
Gianna continues to polish her singing talents. She is currently working on an album with renowned guitarist Phil Keaggy, due out this year. It is exciting working with a musician, composer, and lyricist of Mr. Keaggy’s stature, she told The New American, but becoming a recording "star" is not her ambition. "My real ambition is to become a fearless Christian," she said. Gianna was schooled at home by her adoptive mother, Diana DePaul, and is planning to begin taking correspondence classes from Moody Bible College.
And what does Gianna Jessen see herself doing ten years from now? "Being a good wife and mother," she says unhesitatingly. "Not that I’m in a rush to get married now, but a good husband and children — that’s what I want."
A Representative of the Dead
All babies are miracles, of course, but Sarah Smith’s birth, like that of Gianna Jessen, was doubly miraculous. Sarah’s near-death experience preceded Gianna’s by several years, in 1970, before Roe v. Wade. Sarah’s mother, Betty, did not know she was carrying twins when she went to the abortionist in Los Angeles. The abortionist, apparently, did not realize it either; his search-and-destroy mission yielded only one tiny victim.
"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," she noted. "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? The words of Christ are clear — ‘What you have done to the least of these you have done unto me.’ You and I are called and commissioned to care for these little ones just as we would care for Jesus Himself. To walk away and say this is not my problem is to walk away from Jesus Himself."
Sarah Smith challenged her listeners with these moving words:
Many people upon finding out about the abortion ask me how did I feel, or to what can I compare this to. The only thing I can compare my life to is that of an innocent Jew being made to walk down the streets of Germany naked in front of many people and into a room he knows he will never come out of. In my case, unfortunately, the people leading me into that room are my mother and father. Yet the people looking on at the sidelines are people like you. And I ask you today, will you speak up or will you silently look away as another person who needs your help is led to their death? I have forgiven my parents long ago as I remember the words Jesus spoke as he hung bleeding and bruised from the cross, "Forgive them Father for they know not what they do."
His words pertain to the sins of abortion. Most men and women who involve themselves with abortion don’t know what they’re doing, as [was the case with] my parents. Many women who demand the right to an abortion say, "It’s my body, it’s my choice." Let me make one thing very clear to you today — my mother’s choice was my death sentence. It is not only a woman’s body we are discussing in an abortion. It is the entire flesh and blood of someone just like me.
Like Gianna Jessen, Sarah Smith has traveled to many countries to speak out against abortion and the culture of death, and to call people to the Gospel of Life in Jesus Christ. This courageous warrior for Life is currently undergoing more painful surgery and requests the prayers of fellow believers.
The Oldest Survivor
Unlike Sarah Smith and Gianna Jessen, Jim Kelly is largely unknown, even to the pro-life community. Although he is the oldest abortion survivor we are aware of, he has told his story publicly only once, to a pro-life rally on the steps of the state capitol in Sacramento, California. Like Sarah Smith, Jim Kelly is a surviving twin. His twin sister, Katherine Marie Kelly, was killed by his mother in a self-inflicted abortion 50 years ago, in 1949.
Although he did not suffer his sister’s cruel fate, Jim Kelly’s life has not been an easy or cheerful one, by most standards. His mother was a troubled woman who had nine children (including the aborted Katherine Marie) by five different men, only one of whom she ever married. Jim Kelly never met his father. Although he was too young to remember, Mr. Kelly told The New American he was physically abused by one of the men his mother lived with (his ankle was broken and his hands burned). His mother placed him in foster care while he was still very young and he was raised in a series of foster homes and institutions, where he also suffered physical, emotional, and sexual abuse.
The greatest pain for him, however, was the lifelong feeling of rejection and the craving for his mother’s affection and approval. Jim learned of his mother’s abortion and the death of his twin sister when he was 27 years old. He had become a Christian several years earlier and had intellectually forgiven his mother for abandoning him and for her continued rejection of him, but he still struggled with feelings of anger, resentment, and loss. He worked untiringly to bring his dysfunctional family together and succeeded, in large measure, with his brother and half-brothers, but was unable to break through his mother’s estrangement toward him. "I always tried to be the good son, and to help her and win her love," but she would not allow that, he says. "I think her cold, unloving attitude toward me was a projection of the guilt she felt over the abortion, and her expectation that I would feel negatively toward her because of it. But that was never the case; I just wanted to be loved and accepted by her."
Although he did not hold it against his brothers, it compounded his grief to see his mother extend affection to them while continuing to keep him at arm’s length. In the final hours of her life, however, Jim Kelly says he thinks his mother "finally found resolution." She died in February of 1999 from cancer of the throat. "My brothers and I were there and I held her hand and she held mine," he recounted, his voice swelled with emotion. "She couldn’t speak, but there was a difference in her eyes and the way she looked at me. I think that at the threshold of death she realized that I did love her, and she really did have some love for me."
Does Jim Kelly ever wish that he had been spared his tumultuous and painful life, that he had also been aborted with his sister? Although he did try to commit suicide once as a teenager, while in an institution, he says he is glad to be alive. And, he adds, "Thank God there were no Planned Parenthood abortion clinics at the time I was born or I wouldn’t have survived; they would have finished the job."
According to Jim Kelly, his life is proof of the truism that God works in mysterious ways. "As negative as so many of my life experiences have been, I wouldn’t trade any of them now," he says. Those experiences have given him compassion and psychological insights that are invaluable to his vocation as a social worker. "I can build bridges, I can reach people who can’t be reached by your so-called ‘professionals,’ because I’ve been there, I know what they’re going through. And they can see that I’m not just relating something I read in a psychology textbook."
Snow Baby & Vacuum Child
Twenty years ago Christelle Morrison was aborted and left to die naked and helpless in the snow. At 28 weeks of gestation, Baby Christelle was a mere two pounds, a difficult entry into life under the best of circumstances. But after surviving the abortion, she was abandoned on a bitter cold, 15-degree, Nevada winter night. She was blue and lifeless when found and rushed to a rural emergency clinic. Like Lazarus, however, she came back to life when the clinic physician placed her in a tub of warm water. She was rushed to the Medical Center in Reno, where registered nurse Susan Walker and other personnel gave her intensive, loving care. Three months after her traumatic "birth," the tiny, three-pound Christelle underwent and survived heart surgery.
Susan Walker and her husband adopted this throw-away miracle baby, who is now a young lady. According to Mrs. Walker, Christelle is "bright, beautiful, strong and healthy, and probably the most loving person you could ever meet! She is a living testimony of God’s tremendous power and love and of the value of each and every unborn child."
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. She is now 21 years old.
Lauren Pulliam was never supposed to leave the Planned Parenthood abortion mill alive. She was supposed to leave as lifeless "tissue" in the trash. However, as in the case of Heidi Huffman, the would-be assassin in the medical frock "goofed." When Lauren’s mom, an unmarried teenager, returned to the abortuary for a checkup, she learned she was still pregnant; Lauren was still there. The Planned Parenthood vultures tried to reschedule her for another session to kill the baby, but she fled their deadly clutches. The troubled teen went to a "respected" obstetrician who, after conducting an ultra-sound, informed her that the baby had "abnormalities" and suggested she should consider re-aborting. But Lauren’s mother refused and carried her almost to full term. Lauren was born one month early. Lauren’s grandparents, who had tried to stop their daughter from having an abortion in the first place and had earnestly prayed for the baby’s life, had their prayers answered. "Our daughter was in labor only twenty minutes," says Lauren’s grandmother, Pat Pulliam. "The baby was six pounds and absolutely perfect in every way.... Our daughter has been chosen to know the fullness of Christ’s love, care and forgiveness. Our lives will never be the same."
Nine-year-old Ana Rosa Rodriguez was a 32-week-old "fetus" when her mother, Rosa, went to the New York City abortion chamber of "Doctor" Abu Hayat, the notorious "Butcher of Avenue A." Even though abortions after the 24th week of pregnancy are illegal under New York law, this was going to be just another of the thousands of routine, late-term abortions performed annually in the state. According to Rosa, who was then 20 years old, she 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," she 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. But Hayat had left his mark upon her; Ana Rosa’s tiny right arm had been torn off in the brutal abortion attempt. Ana Rosa has disappeared from public view, but when last reported, in 1996, she was a perfectly healthy, beautiful, little girl, aside from the abortionist’s stigmata, which she will always bear.
Little Baby Claire is also missing her right arm. Like Ana Rosa, it was wrenched from her helpless body in the sanctuary of her mother’s womb. Her Korean mother was unmarried and considered abortion to be the only "solution" to her problem. Claire, considered undesirable and "unplaceable" in Korea, was adopted and brought to the United States by an American couple whose warm and loving family already included their own four biological children — triplet boys Joshua, Jonathan, and Jeremy, and their sister Caitlin — and a severely disabled, adopted daughter from Taiwan named Carissa.
Claire was one year old when she came to America. A year later she "celebrated" her second birthday by having hip surgery. For six weeks the energetic two-year-old was immobilized in a body cast. As her adopted grandmother, Jean Garton, says, it could have been a 42-day-long "Maalox moment" for the whole family. But that’s when sister Carissa came to the rescue. Carissa was born with severe head deformities: She has a severe cleft palate, and no lower jaw, making speech difficult, and difficult to understand. But there’s nothing wrong with her loving heart. With infinite patience, she took care of her little cast-bound sister. "What could have brought chaos to the family turned into something wonderful," Mrs. Garton relates. "Carissa became Claire’s missing hand and Claire became Carissa’s voice." When others in the family can’t understand what Carissa is saying, Claire pipes up with the translation.
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. She was born when her mother went into labor prematurely, during the early phase of that barbaric procedure, which, according to Dr. Haskell, happens in one out of one hundred cases. Baby Grace was born during her mother’s 26th week of pregnancy. She survived and is now in foster care.
In addition to these still-living survivors, there are also other little victims who struggled valiantly for hours, weeks, or years, before called from their mortal coils. Four months before Baby Grace’s miraculous arrival, "Baby Hope," a 25-week-old little girl, was born at Bethesda North Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio on April 7, 1999. Like Baby Grace, she was a victim of Martin Haskell’s abortuary. The hospital doctors on duty claim they were unable to do anything for her. Emergency room technician Shelly Lowe held the baby until she died three hours and eight minutes after her birth. Lowe said that her whole view of abortion has changed since that experience. "I was always pro-choice, and I’ve changed to pro-life," she said. "This is a baby that could be alive right now."
The same could be said for Sarah Brown. Sarah Brown’s mother had carried her to full term, 36 weeks, when she decided to abort her baby. That was on July 13, 1993. The abortionist stabbed Sarah in the brain three times with a needle filled with poison. But something went "wrong"; two days later she was born live in a Wichita, Kansas, hospital. Bill and Marykay Brown obtained temporary custody of the baby within 24 hours of her birth and adopted her 30 days later. "For the first few months she seemed to be progressing normally, although she was blind," said Marykay Brown in a 1998 interview with National Right to Life News. "She had acute hearing, and was beginning to try to speak." But at about six months Sarah suffered a stroke and never fully recovered. Mrs. Brown says Sarah never spoke or walked, but "she recognized us and learned to smile."
Sarah was a constant joy to the Browns’ seven other children, ranging in age from 18 to 12. "I can’t remember a time when someone wasn’t holding her, talking to her, playing with her," Marykay Brown told NRL News. Sarah died at home on September 28, 1998, surrounded by her loving family. While still alive, little Sarah Brown helped save other babies whose mothers decided not to abort after seeing her and hearing of her story. She continues to help save lives through Sarah Ministries, which the Brown family started to help pregnant women in need.
There are, undoubtedly, many other infant survivors like Baby Hope and Baby Grace whom we will never hear about. Most of these "mistakes" that are born alive are callously allowed to die from exposure and neglect in a sink or a trash can in the abortuary. Or, sometimes, the abortionist "assists" nature by strangling or drowning those babies who cling too tenaciously to life. Then, too, there surely are others who, like Jim Kelly, have reached adulthood and still do not know the truth surrounding their birth, or having learned of it have elected to keep this personal matter private.
But we are not really in need of more survivor examples to "prove" what should be blindingly obvious even to the most stone-hearted and obstinate. Sarah and Andrew Smith, Gianna Jessen, Sarah Brown, Ana Rosa Rodriguez, Jim and Kathryn Marie Kelly, Claire, Baby Hope, Baby Grace — these witnesses provide more than sufficient proof of the truth of the bumper-sticker slogan that "An abortion stops a beating heart," that abortion kills defenseless human beings, that abortion is an unmitigated evil and an inhuman, ghastly crime that cries out for justice. And woe unto us if we fail to listen to those cries and allow this dreadful slaughter of the innocents to continue.
This article originally appeared under the title "The Survivors" in the January 17, 2000 print edition of The New American.