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I am the face of ‘choice’: Women who survived being aborted give riveting testimony at March for Life

'Over a five day period, I soaked in a toxic salt solution being poisoned and scalded to death. But 42 years ago, God said, ‘No. Not this child’, and I was accidentally born alive.'
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Dorothy Cummings McLean By Dorothy Cummings McLean

Dorothy Cummings McLean By Dorothy Cummings McLean

WASHINGTON, D.C., January 24, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Two women who survived attempts on their lives as unborn babies testified at the March for Life to the dignity of their lives and the love they have experienced since they were aborted.   

Claire Culwell, a surviving twin, and Melissa Ohden, the founder of the Abortion Survivors Network, both addressed massive crowds on the National Mall before today’s march to the Supreme Court.

Culwell, who discovered only in 2009 that she had survived an abortion, told the story of her first meeting with her birth mother. 

“I am the surviving twin of a botched D & E dismemberment abortion,” Culwell said.  

“I found this out ten years ago when I met my birth mother after thanking [her] for giving me my life,” she continued. 

“She broke down into tears at this moment. She described her abortion that successfully aborted my twin. The pain in her eyes was something that I will never forget.”

Culwell said discovering she was an abortion survivor explained many things to her: “My physical complications because of my prematurity and being a twin--a surviving twin. My curiosity and longing for another sibling. My deep appreciation for being wanted by adoptive parents who stand here with me today.”

The young mother said that she had never thought that she would be affected by abortion until that moment. “And yet here I was looking my birth mother in the eye, finding out that I ― not only was I affected by abortion, but I had survived one. My life was a miracle,” she said. 

As the identical twin of a baby who didn’t survive the abortion, Culwell represents her, too. 

“I realized that there was a face, a name, a story with the unborn child and with the woman contemplating an abortion like my birth mother,” she said. 

“You see, when you look at my face, you see my twin. And when you look at my life, you see the almighty hand of God.”

Culwell was joined on stage by her adoptive parents and her own children.

Melissa Ohden, who survived abortion 42 years ago, spoke next. 

“Forty-seven years ago the Supreme Court handed down the decision meant to be my death sentence,” Ohden said. 

“Unfortunately in 1977, my biological mother had a saline infusion abortion forced upon her,” she continued.  

“Over a five day period, I soaked in a toxic salt solution being poisoned and scalded to death. But 42 years ago, God said, ‘No. Not this child’, and I was accidentally born alive.” 

The upbeat Ohden told her audience of all the people afterward who had said “Yes” to her survival and “Yes” to the question of loving her. 

“I am so blessed to have been loved into life by my adoptive parents, to be a wife and a mother to two amazing daughters, one of whom is here today,” she said.  

Ohden spoke of later being accepted by her birth mother and her birth mother’s family. She has forgiven them, and they are reconciled and love one another. 

“Abortion didn’t empower my birth mother,” Ohden said, contradicting the message of the abortion industry and its allies.   

“It certainly didn’t empower me. It didn’t empower my own daughters who never would have lived if that abortion [had] succeeded in ending my life.” 

The abortion survivor said that it is life that empowers. 

“Life is what has empowered each and every one of us,” she proclaimed.

“Life is what has allowed healing. Life is what brought forth love and forgiveness, and life is what allowed the pain of our family to be transformed into purpose. Life empowers us all.”

Culwell and Ohden both thanked the crowds for marching. Both emphasized that they were uniquely able to speak for aborted babies, having been aborted themselves. 

“I am more than a ‘choice,’” Ohden said. “I am more than someone else’s ‘reproductive right’. I am a human being, and so are the other survivors of abortion.”

Ohden said that the Abortion Survivors Network has worked with 300 people who have survived abortion. Stating that the world needed face “who abortion has affected”, she introduced a short film produced by “Faces of Choice.” In the video, Ohden and other survivors of abortion ask such questions as “Can you look me in the eye and tell me that I shouldn’t exist?” “That I should be dead?” and “That I deserved to die that day?” 

The survivors declare also, “I am the face of choice.” 


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