Thursday, January 21, 2010

Gianna Jessen

She was born alive after her birth mother went in for a saline abortion, 7 ½ months pregnant.

In Gianna’s words, “They didn’t know who they were trying to kill.” Gianna’s a survivor and a voice for many more who aren’t.

I’m just home from a powerful message on this dark eve, the eve of Roe v. Wade.

When I say powerful, I don’t mean in the artificial sense. I don’t mean Gianna was poised, or used fancy rhetoric, or was eloquent beyond description. Her tone was very conversational and not at all polished. I liked it because I felt each sentence was genuine and from her heart. But what made it powerful was her words of truth.

First: what is a saline abortion?

In a saline abortion, a salt solution is injected into a pregnant woman’s uterus, causing the amniotic fluid to become poisonous. As the unborn child drinks the amniotic fluid, the salt begins to burn him to death inside and out. Labor is induced, and the woman gives birth to a dead baby about 20 hours later. Gianna was born alive after being burned for 18 hours. She suffers from cerebral palsy because of the saline abortion.

Before the Born Alive Infant Protection Act of 2002, the tiny survivor from a saline abortion was normally either suffocated or left to die. The abortion doctor was not on duty when Gianna was born alive and nobody else stepped up to kill her. Later, the abortionist who had tried to kill her has his name on her birth certificate. Gianna was given up for adoption.


Gianna’s birth mother showed up unannounced at an event that Gianna was speaking at three years ago. Gianna, whose difficulties with cerebral palsy daily remind her of her mother’s attempt to kill her, was able to tell that woman that she has forgiven her from her heart. Only by the love of Jesus of Nazareth, was she able to forgive.

Gianna has forgiven the abortion doctor, whose name she has to carry around with her on her birth certificate.

Gianna told a story of being at a dinner event and sitting next to a former abortion doctor who had repented, quit his practice, and become an advocate for life. Gianna thought nothing of it, because she really believes that in Christ, this man had been forgiven. But she said that others at the table didn’t know what to make of it: a young woman who had been nearly killed and maimed for life sitting next to a man that used to kill and maim. Everyone felt awkward until Gianna warmly engaged him in conversation and broke the ice. Later, the group was walking down the windy street and Gianna sometimes has difficulty walking because of her cerebral palsy, so she asked the man if she could hold his elbow. He offered it to her and off they went arm in arm. Gianna’s sister was walking behind them and began bawling her eyes out because she couldn’t believe what a beautiful picture the two were: the killer and the almost killed, the lion lying down with the lamb, the oppressed forgiving the oppressor.

Gianna made it obvious that she had a very strong will to live and to stand up for what she believes in. She said often before she gets up to speak, someone will say to her, “Now Gianna, we love your message and your story, but you don’t really need to say so much about Jesus.” She goes on to mention Jesus quite a few times.

I just wrote about what a strong will Naomi has and how that made her so difficult at first. There was something about Gianna that reminds me so much of Naomi. Gianna said that she was the strongest-willed child ever. I whispered to Isaiah, “But she doesn’t know about Naomi.” It gave me hope for little Naomi that if her strong will can be channeled in the right direction, God can use that in mighty ways.

Another demonstration on Gianna's courage was when she looked out at the crowd and said, "How dare you, you who are healthy, look at someone with a disability and tell them that they should not live. The arrogance of healthy people to look down on those with down's syndrome, or cerebral palsy, or any other disability as though they were less important or valuable than normal people, is appalling." I'll add to that, I'm glad there's not a test for autism in the womb, or they would be disappearing like Down's children are. Looking around the room, I saw an adorable little down's syndrome blond girl of about 8 or 9, and the president of Life Network with his disabled son of about the same age, living out their message.

Gianna mentioned meeting George W. Bush when he signed into law the Born Alive Infant Protection Act. She told about what a profound effect meeting him had on her life. All she had heard about him was how stupid he was, how inarticulate, fumbling, etc. But as she stood there, quaking in her shoes nervously, and awkwardly holding out her hand, he said, “Are you nervous?” She said, “I’m so nervous I could die.” He said, “I’ll give you a hug then.” He gave her not an awkward, politician hug, but a genuine hug. They talked more and she could not believe what an amazing person he is. The reason she told this part was to drive home the point of how much we will be hated for doing what’s right. She asked us the question: are we willing to be slandered and maligned for doing what we think is the right thing as well?

Finally, she ended by reading a quote from Hitler. The quote said that the people need to be fed a few simple slogans. They cannot understand anything deep, but campaigns should get them to repeat mantras. She said, isn’t it strange that thinking people with numerous scientific arguments about when life begins, about the ethical implications about abortion, arguments about the psychological effects on women who’ve had abortion, about the amount of pain a tiny baby can feel witnessed by grimaces, are called stupid and closed-minded? But those arguments are often returned with empty and poorly-researched slogans.

The ignorance surrounding adoption is a good example. Numerous pro-choice people I’ve talked to think that there are more babies in America waiting to be adopted than parents wanting to adopt. The extreme opposite is true. Significantly more parents are waiting to adopt than there are babies available. The media doesn't want you to know this because it puts abortion in a bad light. Chris and I have friends who have been waiting for 10 years to adopt domestically. Sometimes people will point out how many children are in our foster care system without realizing that many foster children are not able to be adopted because their living parents’ have not consented.

Another example of poor arguments: when talking to people who do not believe human life begins at conception, I have yet to meet one that has even the foggiest notion of when they do believe it begins. They give no plausible alternatives.

Finally, Gianna referred to her disability as the gift of cerebral palsy. If Christ were to stand in front of her and ask her if she wanted to be healed, she would say no. She has seen how Christ has used it to refine her and change her.

All in all, it was a moving, memorable speech. If you ever want to hear her, she is also on YouTube telling her story.

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