On Sunday at the March for Life Chicago, I had the privilege of meeting Melissa Ohden. In fact Melissa was the reason I traveled from St. Louis for the March. You see, 38 years ago Melissa survived an abortionists attempt on her life.
I came to honor her for her undeserved suffering as well as for her faithful witness to the Gospel of Life.
I came for one other reason. To apologize to Melissa for my failure to protect her. To be there for her the day she was attacked. In fact we all owe her an apology.
It was an extremely moving expedience. For both of us. It’s hard to explain what it’s like to look into the eyes of such a survivor. Knowing I had failed her. We had failed her. Abandoned her.
I spent the first 5 years post-Roe and Doe focused on political action and education, leaving Melissa and her peers to fend for themselves. Following the lead of the movement. It was unconscionable. Predictably, the movement eventually became an end in itself. We should have known better.
I did know better.
But it would be almost 2 more years before I would follow the lead of the John Cavanaugh O’Keefe’s, Harry Hand’s, Sam Lee’s, and Joan Andrew’s of the Rescue movement and place my body between the abortionists and his intended victims. To attempt to rescue Melissa’s peers. To at least honor them with my
My opportunity to speak to Melissa came as the March ended last Sunday. I saw her standing at the back of the stage. She kindly agreed to give me a few minutes of her time. It was surreal as we stood inches apart: music blaring in the background, Generation Life youth dancing about us in the -20 degree wind chill, media packing up its gear. I choked back tears, reaching out to beg her forgiveness, apologizing for my failure to protect her.
Without missing a beat Melissa wordlessly acknowledged my apology, immediately identifying her own struggle with “Why I lived and so many died. 57 million!” She tearfully described her own survivor’s guilt. It was heartbreaking to see the pain in her eyes. She explained “All I know is to do this.” Neither of us could speak any further. Here I was apologizing for my failure to protect her and Melissa was apologizing for being alive. The abortionists attempt on her life further victimizes her. Surviving trauma will do that to you.
Luke 17: 12-19)As he was entering a village, ten lepers met [him]. They stood at a distance from him and raised their voice, saying, “Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!”f And when he saw them, he said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.”* As they were going they were cleansed. And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. He was a Samaritan. Jesus said in reply, “Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine? Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?” Then he said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.”
Melissa, you are the “one”.
You miraculously survived the un-survivable. But like the “one” you returned and continue to return every time you speak “glorify(ing) God in a loud voice” thanking Him by witnessing to the Gospel of Life. Telling your story to honor Him and those who did not survive. You show great courage in your willingness to re-experience the pain of your survival in order to honor those who did not survive. In fact your very presence honors God, and is the unspoken argument against every justification for what an abortionist does to a human being.
There is no doubt that, now that there are survivors of the abortion holocaust, for any pro-life event to fail to feature the Survivors is a travesty of justice: are you listening National March for Life? For their very presence challenges us to face our failures and provides us the perspective for all of our decisions.
Care for the moms? You bet. Been doing that for decades. But we march first and foremost for the intended victims of the abortionists. To rescue those being dragged to the slaughter. To do less is to resign ourselves to another 43 years of marching and bloodletting.
And finally a word to the other Survivors of the abortion holocaust- all of those who read this and are under the age of 43. The fact is that a third or more of your peers lost their lives to an abortionist. That you come from a generation that was decimated by this holocaust. That you are a survivor. Christ in His distressing disguise as an unborn child asks you “Where are the other nine?” Look Melissa in the eyes and explain where you have been. Yes there is a price to being “the one”. But is well past time that you honor Melissa and all your peers victimized by abortionists by showing up on the front lines. Perhaps then we will actually end the horror of abortion.
To do less is………unconscionable.