'Abortion survivor' speaks to a packed house

Mar 28 2012 - 3:15pm

MOSCOW, Idaho -- The word "freedom" loudly rang out from the Schweitzer Engineering Laboratory Event Center on Tuesday night, as international speaker and "abortion survivor" Gianna Jessen asked men to proudly stand and have a "Braveheart" movie moment.

Jessen, 34, spoke to a room filled to standing room only about her experience growing up with what she called the "gift of cerebral palsy" as a result of an unsuccessful saline abortion her birth mother had 7.5 months into her pregnancy. Jessen said that one in three women in America has had one or more abortions, and noted the amount of men often ignored in the decision to terminate a pregnancy.

"Which makes me furious because it takes two people to create a life," Jessen said passionately. "We've done a massive job of emasculating men in this culture, telling them that they don't need to come through and they don't matter."

Jessen said the women's movement in America has destroyed the ideal brave, honorable man, and that men and women should not try so hard to be treated exactly the same because they were created to be different from each other.

"I deserve to be honored and cherished and loved, and all women are the crown of creation," she said. "The men are made to fight for that beautiful crown of creation."

Jessen's biological parents were 17 when they decided on a saline abortion, which involves injecting a saline solution into the womb that the fetus ingests and, if the process goes as planned, is delivered dead within 24 hours. Jessen survived the procedure and was born in the abortion clinic 18 hours after the solution was delivered.

"I'm sure that was not a happy day for the abortionist, because I was destroying every lie that has ever been promoted for the cause of abortion," she said. "I was a living human being fighting for life."

Jessen weighed two pounds at birth and was placed in emergency foster care. At 17 months she said she was "32 pounds of dead weight," unable to move and diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Jessen was taken in by a foster mother named Penny, who did physical therapy with her as she surpassed the goals doctors said she may never meet, and she was eventually passed down to Penny's daughter when she was almost 4 years old.

Jessen, also a singer, was involved in making of the movie "October Baby," which is loosely based on her story -- a girl who finds out that she survived an abortion. She spoke passionately when saying that the procedure has come down to a matter of convenience for many people.

"You can't deny it -- the troubling thing is now we know, we can't say we didn't know," she said. "When we're talking about abortion, we speak about it in a way that removes all humanity from it."

Jessen spoke directly to Christians in the room when she said that church members are often the "loudest confessors of freedom, yet sometimes we are the most bound."

"When you stand up for something you will make somebody angry, and sometimes it's the people closest to you ... yet if you're doing what you're doing in love and truth, it's part of the journey," Jessen said. "One day I will be unbound, my little legs will be free, but I want to know this: Will you be?"

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(c)2012 the Moscow-Pullman Daily News (Moscow, Idaho)

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