Abortion Survivors: 5 People Who Survived Abortion Attempts
It is easy to forget that every abortion is happening to a unique person. With tens of millions of abortions occurring every year, the deaths become a mere statistic. We never know the people who are lost, and to many of us, they are just numbers on a sheet.
Sometimes, however, someone comes along who survived an abortion attempt in the first months of their lives. Such individuals remind us of what abortion really is. These people represent the countless unborn children who are killed every day. They stand in place of those who cannot stand. They remind us, too, that abortion threatens not only the unborn, but also the children already born.
1. The Oldenburg Baby
On July 6th, 1997, a baby at the Städtische Frauenklinik hospital in Oldenburg, Germany, was aborted in the twenty-fifth week of pregnancy.
The abortion failed.
The infant, Tim, would soon come to be known as the Oldenburg Baby by the rest of the world. Though he was born breathing and moving, medical personnel believed that he would die anyway. Denying him medical assistance, they wrapped him in a towel and left him alone for nine hours without any other care or treatment.
When medical personnel returned to collect the corpse, however, the child had not died. Though Tim’s body temperature dropped massively, he was still living and breathing. One of the nurses took pity and cared for him until doctors finally provided him with medical attention.
Tim was soon placed up for adoption. He found a home with Bernhard and Simone Guido. The couple had been expecting to adopt a healthy baby girl. But they had fallen in love with Tim the moment they laid eyes on him. The family would care for Tim for the rest of his life.
Because of the abortion and the neglect he was subjected to, Tim had numerous disabilities that challenged him. In addition to his Down syndrome, he suffered severe damage to his eyes, brain, and lungs. In the first years of his life, Tim had to undergo numerous operations and extensive therapy. With his strong love for animals, Tim developed the fine motor and speech skills he needed through dolphin therapy. Tim later attended the Paul Moor School in Quakenbrück, where he was described as a confident, lovable, and happy person.
He tragically passed in 2019, having lived a happy life loved by family.
Tim’s story is hardly the only one of its kind. Countless abortion survivors have emerged over the years around the world to tell their stories. Many are survivors of not only the first attempt to end their life but of neglect after birth. Most are plagued by complications from the abortion and/or neglect for the rest of their lives.
2. Gianna Jessen
Another abortion survival case is that of Gianna Jessen, a victim of a saline abortion at seven months gestation. The abortion left Jessen with severe injuries and permanent physical disabilities, including cerebral palsy, due to a lack of oxygen during the abortion. She was never supposed to be able to walk or even to lift her head. Many even doubted that she would live.
Like Tim, however, Gianna defied the odds. After four surgeries and physical therapy, Gianna was able to overcome many of the effects of the attempted abortion. Today, she can walk without assistance, and she has taken an active role as a pro-life advocate. Jessen has testified in Congress on numerous occasions and regularly gives speeches promoting laws to protect abortion survivors. She has also given witness in cases where abortionists have been caught killing infants after birth.
3. Sarah Brown
Not all children are able to overcome the complications from their abortions, however. Even with proper care, many die. Sarah Brown is one such case.
At 36 weeks, nearly full-term, Sarah was injected with potassium chloride meant to stop her heart. But the injection punctured Sarah’s head instead of her heart. The poison entered her brain and left her with visible scars and chemical burns at the base of her skull and above her eyebrow.
The poison severely damaged the left portion of Sarah’s brain instead of killing her. Upon her delivery, the staff at the hospital sent the mother home. They set Sarah aside and waited for her to die.
Though Sarah was neglected for hours following the attempt on her life, without care, nourishment, or assistance, she continued to live. As in Tim’s case, a nurse at the hospital took pity on her and called a pro-life attorney to help. The attorney placed Sarah with Bill and Mary Kay, who had been hoping to adopt a special-needs child.
The damage to the left side of her brain left her blind and unable to walk. Sarah progressed normally for a while, even beginning to speak, but her health worsened. In the year following her birth, Sarah suffered a stroke from which she never fully recovered.
Among her other injuries, Sarah’s airway was severely damaged by the poison used in the abortion attempt. For this reason, Sarah had to be hooked up to a machine that monitored her breathing at night to ensure her safety. She quickly found a way to take advantage of her situation to communicate: “She learned that if she held her breath the monitor would go off,” her adoptive mother recounted once. “We would jump out of bed and she would be grinning at us. That was how she got attention.”
Sarah passed away at the age of five due to her medical complications. Her life spurred her family to take up pro-life activism, forming groups to help pregnant women and children in need.
Despite how efficient abortions have become, there are still a great number of survivors. Many go on to live productive lives, such as Melissa Ohden (founder of the Abortion Survivors Network), Josiah Presley, Nik Hoot, and others. For every one who survives, however, a great many more die.
4. Sycloria Williams’ Baby
Another tragic story of a child who died soon after a failed abortion is that of Sycloria Williams’ baby. On July 17, 2006, Williams went to a clinic and confirmed that she was 23 weeks pregnant. She then went to Dr. Pierre Jean-Jacque Renelique’s abortion clinic. Renelique gave Williams a drug to dilate her cervix and told her to go to another clinic the next day for the abortion procedure. Williams went to this clinic (A Gyn Diagnostic Center) and was given more medication. When Renelique was contacted to come to complete the abortion, he did not show up. Williams gave birth. Williams’ lawsuit outlines that one of the clinic owners knocked the child off the birthing chair (umbilical cord still attached). Then, they threw the baby and the placenta in a plastic bag and threw it away.
5. The New Zealand Baby
More recently, in 2021, a woman came into the hospital for a third-trimester abortion. The baby was perfectly healthy, so instead of injecting the baby with a fatal solution, the mother was induced. The baby was born alive but was neglected after birth. Instead of giving the child proper medical care, they were left “gasping for air” for two hours before dying. A medical student who witnessed the occurrence was left traumatized. The medical staff used the excuse that the mother was experiencing financial difficulties. But the murder of her healthy child did not help her in her financial difficulties. Instead, it left her the mother of a horrifically murdered child.
The Problem of Infanticide
Stories like these are shocking, even when they have a happy ending. It is heartbreaking to imagine any child surviving abortion and then being left to die. Sadly, this is not uncommon. In the United States, it is likely that between a few hundred and well over a thousand children survive abortions every year. Hundreds of more deaths have been recorded in other countries. Though the total number of abortion survivors is difficult to calculate, even just the number of known abortion survivors is staggering.
Worse, these children are commonly neglected after birth. In some countries, the outright killing of the infant after birth is accepted, even recommended as a matter of practice to prevent suffering. Rarely, if ever, are they given care. Their survival is seen as an unfortunate medical failure, a problem that is best dealt with by ignoring it.
Indeed, in a review of eighty-three born-alive abortion survivor cases in the United States, not one report indicated that medical attention was given to any of them. Instead, most reports state outright that no measures were taken to preserve the life of the infant. While these children are sometimes given some comfort care to make their deaths more pleasant, even that level of compassion is often denied.
Legal Protections for Abortion Survivors
Some states require certain measures to preserve the lives of abortion survivors. But these laws are rarely, if ever, enforced and frequently ignored. Likewise, politicians often discount stories and reports on abortion survivors, claiming that laws to protect these survivors are unneeded or are rooted in some assault on women’s rights.
Even though Roe v. Wade was overturned in 2022, currently, no federal law prohibits neglect of abortion survivors or provides protections for them. Often abortion advocates disagree, claiming that the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act is sufficient. The law, however, does not actually provide any protections for these children. It simply declares that terms like “human being” apply to every infant born alive. And regardless of the efficacy of the law, the continuing mistreatment of abortion survivors demonstrates that more needs to be done.
Time and again, pro-life advocates and politicians have put forward laws aimed to protect abortion survivors in the United States. The laws proposed would usually require that these children receive a proper level of care. Others would allow for the criminal prosecution of those who directly kill a born-alive child. Time and again, however, these bills have been shut down by near-unanimous opposition from Democrat politicians and pro-abortion advocates.
Most recently, a law known as the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act was once again shut down by Senate Democrats. Primarily, the bill would have amended the federal criminal code to require that a survivor receive care appropriate to his or her gestational age. In addition, the law would have required that the children be admitted to hospitals instead of remaining in the care of the abortionist. Failure to uphold these standards would have resulted in criminal penalties. Finally, an abortionist would be charged with murder if they killed the surviving child after birth.
The bill was widely opposed by pro-abortion senators, who claimed that it was unnecessary and constituted a harmful restriction on abortion. Each time this law has been proposed, only a handful of Democrats have crossed party lines to support it. Because of the widespread opposition among Democrats, the bill has yet to obtain enough support to reach a filibuster-proof majority.
It may seem odd that such laws would meet such opposition. Protecting abortion survivors after birth, however, can be difficult to rationalize given the legality of abortion. If it is wrong to kill or abandon a child after a failed abortion, why is the procedure meant to kill the child in the first place legal?
How Necessary is All This?
Some claim that such a bill is unnecessary. They say that the instances of failed abortions resulting in a child being born alive are incredibly rare. Stories like the ones outlined above can easily be dismissed as anecdotal. But does the infrequency of a phenomenon justify not protecting life? However rarely or frequently babies are born alive after attempted abortions, we should still be doing all we can to defend and protect life.
Others claim that it is a mercy to abort children who are unwanted/unplanned, or whose parents are poor, or who may have birth defects or mental challenges. But is a death sentence truly warranted, when someone’s life is going to be hard? And who are we to make that choice? Perhaps one’s life is going to be difficult. But who are we to make the decision that their life is not worth living? Should not the person themselves determine their success?
There is a lesson to be taken from the stories of abortion survivors: the abuse of one group of humans inevitably leads to the abuse of others. If we must care for survivors mere moments after failed abortions, it is difficult to justify the death of the unborn in the first place. Rather than this problem leading us to reexamine the ethics of abortion, however, it instead leads us to defend infanticide. To preserve abortion, survivors are neglected, abandoned, and killed, and we ignore it to avoid challenging the status quo.
In the long run, these inconsistencies will need to be corrected and resolved. In the short run, this problem has to be addressed first: regardless of how they were born, or what implications their lives may have on other hot-button topics, these children should receive care.
Abortion has become a battleground over not only the lives of the unborn, but the lives of already born children as well. We cannot simply abandon these children and avoid dealing with the reality of failed abortions simply for political convenience.
This article was originally published April 2021 by William Lawyer and was most recently updated August 2023 by Marisa Cantu.
Did you find this useful?