“Melissa Ohden is the survivor of a botched abortion. You heard that correctly. You see, Melissa’s birth mum was eight months pregnant when her mother forced her to terminate her pregnancy. She was given a toxic saline solution over five days and it should have killed Melissa. In fact, she was thrown out as medical waste. But a nurse heard her weak cries and against all odds, Melissa, weighing barely a kilo, was revived, and ultimately adopted by a loving family.”
This is how Sarah Harris, one of the hosts of Aussie morning talk show Studio 10, opened her emotional interview today with US abortion survivor Melissa Ohden and her birth mother Ruth.
In the interview, Melissa explains how she accidentally found out the story of her survival at 14 years old when her adopted sister and parents let the information slip one night during a heated argument. She said she will never forget that moment as it was like “a bomb being detonated”, causing her to question everything she knew about herself and her life.
Melissa eventually tracked down her birth mum Ruth 39 years later to find answers, but also to simply let her know that she was alive and well and that she was not angry or bitter.
In the interview, Ruth talks about the circumstances in which she was forced into an abortion by her mother (Melissa’s grandmother) and how she had no idea her daughter had survived, or even whether she had had a girl or a boy.
Melissa describes the moment the pair reunited as “indescribable”.
When asked what she would like to say to her birth mother during the interview, Melissa responded, choking back tears:
“I am so proud of you. I’m proud that you are finding your voice. I am so thankful that you are healing, that you’re not afraid anymore, that you know that you have nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about, and you know that we love you, this house of crazy kids and all of us. We miss you in the midst of a pandemic.”
Melissa has since set up the Abortion Survivor’s Network and has come across more than 300 abortion survivors, including survivors in Australia.
Informing her followers of the interview on her Facebook page this morning, Melissa wrote:
“Mainstream media interviews with abortion survivors don’t happen often! Mainstream media interviews with women whose abortion experiences don’t fit the predominant narrative of choice don’t happen often.”
That such interviews “don’t happen often” is an understatement, which is why we are so grateful to Studio 10 for covering this incredible – and incredibly important – story. We hope to see many more media outlets giving a voice to survivors of abortion and survivors of abortion coercion in the future. Thank you Studio 10!
Watch the full interview here.
Melissa has also written a book about her story called You Carried Me: A Daughter’s Memoir.
Rachael Wong is the CEO of Women’s Forum Australia.