Failed Abortions: The People Who Survive

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 has been through abortion and can reminds us what abortion really is. These people can represent to us the lives being ended by abortion because their lives were nearly taken by abortion as well. Even more, as we shall see, these survivors remind us of the dangers that abortion poses not only to the unborn, but to born children as well.


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 survived the abortion and 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 had dropped massively, he was still living and breathing. Taking pity on him, one of the nurses cared for the infant until doctors finally provided him with medical attention.

Tim was soon placed up for adoption and found home with Bernhard and Simone Guido. The couple had been expecting to adopt a healthy baby girl but 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 as he grew up. 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 to help him overcome the hurdles he faced. With his strong love for animals, Tim developed the fine motor and speech skills he needed through dolphin therapy. Tim would later attend the Paul Moor School in Quakenbrück, where he was described as a confident, lovable, and happy person.

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 subsequent neglect. Most are plagued by complications from the abortion 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, Jessen defied the odds. After four surgeries and physical therapy, Jessen was able to overcome many of the effects of the 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 occasion and regularly gives speeches promoting laws to protect abortion survivors. In addition to leading efforts to protect survivors, she has given witness in cases where abortionists have been caught outright killing infants after birth.

Gianna Jessen carrying the Olympic torch


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. The injection, however, 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, set Sarah aside, and waited for her to die.

Though Sarah was neglected for hours following the attempt on her life, with no 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 would place Sarah with Bill and Mary Kay, who had been hoping to adopt a special-needs child.

The injection severely damaged the left portion of Sarah’s brain, leaving her blind and unable to walk. Sarah progressed normally for a while, even beginning to speak, but her health continued to worsen. 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, Josiah Presley, Nik Hoot, and others. For every one who survives, however, a great many more die due to the trauma of the abortion and subsequent neglect.

The Problem of Infanticide

Stories like these are shocking, even when they have a happy ending. It is unpleasant to imagine any child surviving abortion and then being left to die. This reality, however, is sadly 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 rooted in some assault on women’s rights.

Currently, no federal law prohibits this 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; 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 survivors receive a proper level of care; others would allow for the criminal prosecution of those who directly kill a born-alive abortion survivor. 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 Act was once again shut down by Senate Democrats for the third year in a row. 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 survivors be admitted to hospitals instead of remaining in the care of the abortionist. 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?

Final Thoughts

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. It is difficult to justify the death of the unborn if we must care for survivors mere moments after failed attempts on their lives. 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 abortion.

Medical records of abortion survivor Gianna Jessen

Medical records of abortion survivor Gianna Jessen


In the long run, these inconsistencies will need to be corrected and resolved. In the short run, however, 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 abortion survivors and avoid dealing with the reality of failed abortions simply for political convenience.


  1. john lombardo on June 16, 2021 at 11:49 AM

    excellent & tragic article. Thank you!

  2. James Connot on September 15, 2021 at 6:01 PM

    Abortions should be safe and legal. You aren’t pro-life, you’re pro-birth. Many of those children will end up getting neglected and abused. The foster care system will be packed. If women decide to keep their baby, some will be looking at the eyes of their rapist. Most abortions happen in the first trimester and only rare happen later, mainly if their doctor’s advise that their child will only live for a few painful minutes or they will have extreme deformities and be in constant pain.

    • Steve Dirr on September 29, 2021 at 11:43 PM

      Should the child be killed rather than be neglected and abused? Should the cemeteries be packed instead of the foster care system? Should the child pay with their life for the sin of their rapist father? What will become of the child in their 1st trimester after six more months or six more years? I’ve never heard of a doctor that advises that children be killed because they are going to die anyway, extremely deformed, or in constant pain. I don’t understand.

    • Jackie Ow on January 28, 2022 at 5:44 AM

      If abortion should be safe and legal, then it should be safe and legal for you anytime you are designated as unwanted. Are you willing to be on the receiving end of your own medicine? Probably not. So if such practices aren’t good enough for you, they aren’t good enough for anyone else. The baby wasn’t responsible for the rape, the rapist was. It makes no sense to punish the innocent.. Would you like to be executed for someone else’s crime? Probably not. If somebody decides your death would be a rare one does that make it OK? If somebody thinks killing you would save you from your abnormalities and what they judge as your pain, does it then become OK to kill you? Probably not. Your arguments are entirely hypocritical and uncivilized. Fortunately, millions of us are not living with Stone Age standards anymore, and you can become less violent if you are willing to try.

      • Keith on July 3, 2022 at 11:35 PM

        Kind of like Jesus. He was punished for the crimes of humanity.

        • Ket on November 14, 2022 at 12:00 PM

          People get themselves into all sorts of problems and most of us can’t hit a reset button like having an abortion. The abortion is seriously the only one which I can think of and it is evil. Sure people get raped the thought of having to birth a living being as a result makes me absolutely sick for those people. It doesnt seem even rational to even for a moment consider that this rape victim should be tasked with the responsibility of giving birth out of this heinous act. However eliminating the most innocent in this equation makes the least amount of sense to me. It’s two victims and one gets no chance to experience triumph or bring joy or contribute anything to the world they are denied. They are looked at as a growth and removed like a wart but much more violently. Denying this right and creating another victim as a result just creates more a chain of immoral and some may say criminal acts. The survivor is human, and humans have an uncanny ability to heal and progress forward. Sure it takes incredible strength and amazing support and having great friends and family, but the ability and resources to manage falling victim to a crime are there and widely available. Maybe the rapist should get the death penalty that seems to be a more generous and healthy alternative to justice. The baby can be born raised into an increasingly vast selection of available homes that are available to raise this child. Many people have traumatic experiences and many people make decisions that scar or limit their potential for their entire lives. Many people end up deciding to go through with having the baby and it changes their lives for so many wonderful reasons. No matter what their dreams or aspirations are if they were part of the course of their existence and what they really want to do with their lives, then isn’t it way more triumphant than to have accomplished the aim or goal with adversity? A baby is something to be celebrated. Even if it comes as a result of tragedy. Nobody is forcing the child on to the mother, nobody would allow the mother to pay for the medical bills as a result, and nobody would allow for the mother to be uncompensated or go without great therapy and counseling (they would need it as a result no matter what the decision is in terms of birthing or aborting)
          We have lost our humanity and people are so content on gatekeeping the duality of viewing these circumstances. There is many ways you can look at the circumstances but we all know death is a tragedy and if preventable then it is a heroic undertaking to stop it. Is that not true? If you take a life under any circumstances, even if the person is Hitler being killed do they not get charged with a minimum of involuntary manslaughter? Why then is the infant life irrelevant. It’s still stealing breath from another. Also given the circumstances having the baby can open more doors to emotional and mental healing more readily than to ruin another’s chance at life and seek out your own. The growing number of infertile people is astonishing and this also ups the quality of care and the compensation for the journey of being pregnant. It allows you to take almost a year off, in many circumstances to heal, reflect, be introspective, and make plans for the rest of your life. Which I can only speculate may be healthy for the soul of the victim after traumatic and frightening circumstances. This is only my two cents, I finally had my baby at 38 years old and I was so certain in my 20s and early 30s that a baby would be a killjoy. I can tell you, you don’t miss anything if you do have a baby. Life goes on no matter what and what you feel like is fulfilling and will go on forever isn’t and won’t. Bringing up a baby is so rewarding and difficult. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I thought and everyone else thought I would hate it, but there is such genuine fulfillment and perspective it gives you. It makes the condition of the world a lot more consequential and helps motivate you to want to clean it up and shine a light on the crap that needs work. If I can do this you can too. Believe in yourself and if you don’t then believe in that someone else that could and should be.

    • Alicia Shortt on March 28, 2022 at 11:44 AM

      Abortion is safe for no one! How many women and children have to die or be permanently injured for you pro murder people to get it!
      Abortion hurts everyone!
      There is no such thing as a safe abortion!
      May God open your eyes to the truth!
      The Bible says children are a blessing not an inconvenience.
      We are to protect future generations not kill them.
      If everyone chose abortion soon there would be no one!
      And as for your argument that they would be abused later.
      It’s ridiculous!
      People who abort them are abusing and killing them!
      What could be worse than that kind of blatant abuse?!
      And did you not read the stories of these survivors?!
      They weren’t abused by the people who loved them and showed pity on them.
      They were loved!
      The Bible says Yahweh is love.
      To know Him is to know love.
      Maybe if you knew Him and how much He loves you, you wouldn’t be so quick to condemn an innocent child to die.
      I hope one day you know what real love is and start fighting for the right to live instead of for the right to take life! Praise Yahshua for truth and grace!

      • Saef on June 25, 2022 at 9:20 PM


    • Keith on July 3, 2022 at 11:36 PM

      You aren’t pro-choice you are pro-abortion.

  3. Maryanne Carroll on June 25, 2022 at 4:14 PM

    Hmmm. Perhaps there ought to be a school curriculum for young adolescents ~13-15 years old where they have cognitively developed their abstract thinking skills (kind of like what they are introducing in the schools nowadays about gender identity and all of its’ inclusivity and tolerance-) fundamental and God given human rights. Autonomous and the right to choose for oneself. Okay so that may include a lifeskills, parenting class-you know the one where they care for a ‘real baby’ for a period of time. They can then include some real life statistics, socio-economic and other factors and a real life graphic video of an actual abortion being performed. And then open the class up for discussion, where the kids get to express and debate their opinions and thoughts…I think at that age they can handle all of that and more, long before they are faced with any life or death situations.

  4. Sue Ellen on July 13, 2022 at 12:45 AM

    It’s my view that babies should at least be anaesthetized in the womb prior to abortion. It must be painful! A saline abortion virtually burns the baby in the womb. Another method tears the baby apart limb by limb. I know this would be akin to admitting the baby is a sentient feeling human being and so would never be approved. But if you must kill the baby, at least lessen his pain.

    I remember when my daughter and I saw her amniocentesis on the wall in the examining room. As soon as the needle entered the uterine wall, Aiden (because that’s what he ended up being called) froze and slowly sank to the bottom of the uterus. He had swimming around joyously and turning somersaults just before. But he obviously sensed the threat to his little watery world. As soon as the needle left, he resumed swimming.

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