October 8, 2021

Abortion survivor shares story of Christ’s power at Right to Life of Indianapolis fundraising dinner

As abortion survivor Gianna Jessen delivers her talk at the Right to Life of Indianapolis fundraising dinner on Sept. 28, she is supported by David Liebel, left, and David Certo. She asked the two members of the audience for their support as a precaution against falling because she has cerebral palsy. (Photo by John Shaughnessy)

As abortion survivor Gianna Jessen delivers her talk at the Right to Life of Indianapolis fundraising dinner on Sept. 28, she is supported by David Liebel, left, and David Certo. She asked the two members of the audience for their support as a precaution against falling because she has cerebral palsy. (Photo by John Shaughnessy)

By John Shaughnessy

As the keynote speaker at the Right to Life of Indianapolis Dinner on Sept. 28, abortion survivor Gianna Jessen laughed as she warned the audience of 800 people that there wouldn’t be any structure to her talk.

While living up to her humorous and honest warning, Jessen’s sometimes-funny, often-feisty and always-faith-filled talk did reflect the realities of life for most people—the miracles, the challenges, the “angels” in our midst, the love, the compassion, the heartbreak, the faith, and the support and the strength we can be for each other.

It’s also telling about Jessen that the first part of her talk didn’t focus on her sharing how the miracle of her life unfolded. Instead, it was directed toward the women and men whose lives have been marked by abortion and her concern for them.

A touch of compassion

“I understand that in every audience I speak to there are women who have had abortions. Or men who paid for them,” Jessen told the audience which included about 350 students from 41 schools.

“There are women who weep and have grieved for 30 years, 20 years. And I want to say something to you. As I continue on, you may hear a voice from some place inside you, ‘You remember what you did? You will never be free.’ If you hear that voice, you just say, ‘In the name of Jesus, I can be free.’

“You see, ladies and gentlemen, no matter what you’ve done, there is no other name by which we can be saved, and no other name under heaven that can free us from what we are tormented by. But we must repent. We must repent to be saved. But once you have confessed that sin, I ask you, ‘Why do you torment yourself with something that Christ has thrown into the depths of the seas?’

“So, if you hear that accusing voice, know that it isn’t coming from me. I have come to tell you about the only one who can free you. I have not come to bring you any shame.”

The miracle

Jessen shared that the miracle of her life began when her biological mother was 17 and pregnant with her in 1977. Seeking an abortion 7 1/2 months into the pregnancy, her mother was told she needed a late-term saline abortion.

“A saline abortion is a saline salt solution that’s injected into the mother’s womb,” Jessen noted. “The baby gulps that solution, it burns, blinds and suffocates the child, and then the baby is to be born dead within 24 hours. But instead of being born dead, I survived.

“I was born alive after 18 hours after being burned alive in my mother’s womb. Born alive in an abortion clinic on April 6, 1977, by the sheer power of Jesus Christ and no one else.

“The Lord gave me such magnificent proof. My medical records state on them, ‘Born during saline abortion, [on] April 6, 1977, 6 a.m., 2 1/2 pounds.’ And here’s my favorite part, ready? ‘No resuscitation required on arrival at the hospital.’ Jesus said, ‘She’s not going to die. She’s going to go out through her life, and she’s going to proclaim my name because I am hers and she is mine.’

“Nothing is impossible for God.”

The gift of an angel

Now 44, Jessen shared that one of the reasons she survived the abortion was because she was born at 6 a.m.—and the defining reason she is alive is because of a nurse.

“Six o’clock in the morning was a great time to be born,” she told the audience at the Marriott in downtown Indianapolis. “You know why? The abortionist wasn’t at work yet so he couldn’t finish me off. He would have ended my life with strangulation, suffocation or leaving me to die. But a nurse called an ambulance and had me transferred to a hospital. She saved my life. I often wonder if that nurse was human or angelic. I’ll only know when I get home with God.

“At the hospital, I was placed in the incubator, weighing 2 1/2 pounds. After several months of not dying, they said, ‘This baby girl has a tremendous will to live. She does not want to die.’ That is right. Do I look like someone who wants to die?”

The strength and support of others

As she shared her story from a podium, Jessen was supported on both her sides by two men from the audience, David Liebel and David Certo. She asked for their support as a precaution against falling because she has cerebral palsy. As she rested her arms on theirs, she talked at different points of her speech about the strength and support of a woman who changed her life.

Following her birth, Jessen was placed in emergency foster care and eventually placed in “a wonderful foster home by a woman named Penny,” she said

“She was sent from Jesus. She loved me, and her daughter adopted me. I was adopted at 3 1/2, but not before the doctor said to my Penny, ‘Gianna will never be anything more than a vegetable. She will never get out of this bed. She’s never going to walk.’ Ha!

“Penny saved my heart. She died nine years ago. She was a single woman who cared for 56 foster children. And I was one. The faith of one woman changed the whole course of my life.”

The quality of life with Christ

“At 17 months, I was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, which was caused directly by a lack of oxygen to my brain while I was surviving an abortion,” Jessen noted. “So, I wouldn’t be disabled if I had not survived an abortion. But you can imagine how I feel when I hear the argument, ‘If the baby is disabled, we need to terminate the pregnancy.’ Who are you, healthy person, to look at me and determine for me what my quality of life is?”

Jessen told the audience she has found the true quality of her life by placing her trust in Christ.

“When you need him every single, solitary second of your life, guess who you get? You don’t just get some version of Jesus that’s sort of out there. You get Jesus. And guess what you get with the real Jesus? You get the most awesome quality of life because the power of Christ can rest upon me and my weakness. He is strong on my behalf in this broken world. And I would rather limp through life and let my legs be utilized to be a fisher of men. In all these years, I got to limp so I could come to know my Savior.

“Bless his holy name. I shouldn’t be walking, and I do. Because the Lord makes the lame to walk, and not just walk. I finished two marathons as well [in 2005-06].”

Then in one of the many moments she injected humor into her talk, Jessen laughed as she shared an aside with the young women in the audience: “Girls, a word of advice: If an Englishman asks you to run a marathon, he’s not asking you to marry him. I learned the hard way. He was running away.”

The path from heartbreak to healing

Gasps could be heard throughout the ballroom when Jessen shared the moment when she met her biological mother for the first time.

“I have forgiven my biological mother for what she had done,” she began. “She came to an event like this, and she said, ‘Hi, I’m your mother.’ I silently prayed to Jesus because it felt as if the universe was crushing me. It was the most difficult thing. I looked at her and said, ‘Ma’am, you need to know that I am a Christian, and I forgive you.’ She said, ‘I don’t want your forgiveness!’

“You see if she received my forgiveness, she would have to admit what she had done. But that wasn’t my concern. My portion was to forgive. I looked at her again and said, ‘Ma’am, you must need to know I’m a Christian, and I forgive you.’ ”

Jessen’s biological mother again berated her, telling her, “You are an embarrassment to this family!”

In that moment, Jessen said she heard a voice speak to her—“the one I have known since I was 3 years old, the voice of the Lord, my God.” She said the voice told her to be strong, to stand up for herself.

“I said, ‘Ma’am, I am a Christian, and I will forgive you, but I will no longer allow you to speak to me in this manner.’ I got up and walked out. My part was finished.”

Her efforts to bring others to Christ weren’t finished. She shared the story of the last gift she shared with her adoptive father, “an alcoholic and an amazing architect.”

“I was able to lead him to Christ over the phone on his death bed,” she said.

“I say no matter what has been done to you, that all doesn’t matter when you come to Christ. You can change generations. You don’t have to be a victim for the rest of your life.”

A parting thought

Jessen said that the journey of her life—of any life—should be measured by the paths traveled with Christ.

“There are ordinary people, and there are extraordinary people, and it doesn’t mean you have to be famous,” she said. “Some of the most extraordinary people are hidden. I mean the caliber of person and how much they love Christ, how much they talk about him.

“I owe everything to Jesus.” †


Related story: Catholics ‘cannot be soft or lax’ in pro-life efforts, says Archbishop Thompson

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