This week, NC Family president John Rustin talks with pro-life advocate and speaker, Gianna Jessen, who was miraculously born alive after her biological mother underwent a failed saline abortion in the 1970s, about her amazing story and how God has used her life to promote the sanctity of human life.
INTRODUCTION: Gianna Jessen is a pro-life advocate, national speaker, writer and singer, who was miraculously born alive after her biological mother underwent a failed saline abortion in the late 1970s. God has used Gianna’s life to inspire a pro-life movie, October Baby, as well as life-saving legislation, such as the federal Born-Alive Infant Protection Act. Gianna has testified before numerous lawmaking bodies both in the United States and abroad, including the U.S. Congress, and she most recently appeared before Congress during hearings investigating the gruesome practices employed by Planned Parenthood to harvest and sell the body parts of aborted unborn babies. Gianna is with us today to share her amazing story, and we’re so excited to have her with us.
JOHN RUSTIN: Gianna, the circumstances surrounding your birth are nothing short of miraculous. Your biological mother was 17 and pregnant when she went to a local abortion clinic. The saline abortion they attempted failed and you were born, praise the Lord. For those who don’t know, tell us what’s involved in a saline abortion, and how in the world did you survive?
GIANNA JESSEN: She was seven and a half months pregnant. She went to a Planned Parenthood who then told her she needed to go have a late-term saline abortion. A saline abortion is a saline salt solution that’s injected into the mother’s womb. It’s to burn the baby inside and out, blind and suffocate the child, and then she is to deliver a dead baby within 24 hours. But I was delivered alive after 18 hours of all of that in a Los Angeles County abortion clinic. It’s even stunning for me to look down at my medical records and have them say: “Born during saline abortion, 6am, 2 1/2 pounds, 1977, Los Angeles, California.” I mean it’s just absolutely mind blowing to read that. And I should have burns on my body, and those who oppose me love to accuse me of lying because they say, “Your skin is not burned, you have flawless skin,” and then of course my vanity as a woman takes over and I say, “Yes, I do have flawless skin, tell me more…” But really it doesn’t occur to godless people that God could shield you in the womb, just like He did Shadrack, Meshach, and Abednego. Now I do have the gift of Cerebral Palsy, which is caused by a lack of oxygen to my brain while I was surviving that very abortion. So, yeah, that’s what it is.
JOHN RUSTIN: Thank you for sharing that. It is absolutely miraculous. Now, you’ve stated before that if the abortionist had been at the clinic that day, you probably would not be here. Tell us more about that?
GIANNA JESSEN: No, I wouldn’t be, for sure. He was busy getting his coffee or whatever, it was so early in the morning, and it gave time for a nurse to call an ambulance and have me transferred to a hospital, where again I was 2 1/2 pounds, and they said there’s no way this baby is going to live. He would have ended my life with strangulation or suffocation, or leaving me there to die because his job is to kill the child. Now, I do want to say at this juncture for anyone listening, driving in their car or wherever you are, I am not about shame. If you’ve had abortions, one or more abortion, or been involved with abortion and you are just freaking out right now when you hear my voice, I want you to hear the name of Jesus, I’m a Christian, and the only thing that can relieve so much shame and guilt in your heart, in your life and if you’re just sobbing is Him and He will do it, but I don’t want you to hear as I’m explaining these things that you are condemned or that you are awful. You are not, you are beloved of God, and I’ve forgiven my biological mother for what she has done. I told her so, and told her I’m a Christian. But I just like to get that across because I always imagine women who have avoided this issue in their life for 20 years, hearing this and freaking out.
JOHN RUSTIN: Thank you for sharing that, and I think that’s so important that there is a great measure of grace there, and you just stated that so beautifully. As you mentioned Gianna, you were born with cerebral palsy. Has it been determined that there’s a connection between that disability and the saline abortion?
GIANNA JESSEN: Yes, because of the direct lack of oxygen to my brain while I was being burned alive in my mother’s womb. I would not be disabled otherwise. Which I think is curious because you always hear the awful argument, if the baby is disabled we need to terminate the pregnancy. Which, by the way, who does that sound like? Adolph Hitler. Who are you, healthy person, through your own perception, to try to put on me what my value of life is according to you? I think we have forgotten how beautiful adversity can be. How it is so often from the weakest among us that we learn something sorely lacking in the nation at present, which is wisdom. And so, yeah, I have a phenomenal life! Is it easy? No, I did not sign up for easy. I signed up for extraordinary. I come from the land of the free and the home of the brave, and beautiful things and beautiful lives cost something!
JOHN RUSTIN: Wow, what a great statement, what a great testimony! I know you were adopted when you were four years old. Tell us about your formative years and the impact your adoptive mother in particular had on your life growing up.
GIANNA JESSEN: I am a huge advocate of adoption. However, I say this not as a victim, just in truth, but my adoption was a broken one, and I had a very challenging time. But let me back up a minute. I was in the hospital, then placed in emergency foster care, then treated not very well at all in that home, so I was transferred to another foster home of a woman by the name of Penny. So by this time I was 17 months, 32 pounds of dead weight, and never supposed to walk or move, or run any marathons, which I did. So Penny took me in and honestly saved my spirit. She’s the one that taught me to walk once, then twice after spinal surgery. It was her daughter that adopted me, so my beloved Penny became my grandmother who lived till just a few years ago, she was 91, she cared for 56 foster children as a single woman. And I’m just saying that though my adoption was difficult, that the reason I believe that the Lord allowed it, is He knew that if I had been torn away from my Penny, my grandmother, that my heart would have just broken and never repaired, so she just was amazing, and I’m so grateful.
JOHN RUSTIN: And how old were you, Gianna, when you learned about the circumstances surrounding your birth, and how did that news impact you?
GIANNA JESSEN: Really odd timing. I was 12 years old, and it was Christmas day, and my adoptive mother was making dinner. And I was never satisfied with the answer to this question, which was, “Why do I have Cerebral Palsy?” And she would always say, because you were a premature baby or you had a traumatic birth, because I always knew that I was adopted. But this day I asked her again because I just thought, “No, I have to ask again.” And she said “Do you really want to know?” and I said “Yeah,” and she was trying to soften it a little bit, [by saying] “Your biological mother was young, yada, yada, yada.” And I just looked at her, and this will sound strange, but I believe in the Holy Spirit and a still small voice who can prepare us for really huge things, and in my mind it was that I was aborted. And so I looked at her, and I said, “I was aborted, right.” And she said “Yes,” and I said, as a 12 year old, “Well at least I have Cerebral Palsy for an interesting reason,” and I went on my way. And honestly I knew what abortion was, but I don’t think I was fully comprehending that, but that’s when I found out and that was my reaction.
JOHN RUSTIN: The pro-life film, October Baby, was inspired by your story. And I know that you’ve stated that the film really changed you and helped you heal. Talk about that, if you will, and tell us what it was about the movie impacted you the most?
GIANNA JESSEN: The film was not about my life, it was inspired by my life, which is different, and I really do appreciate the film, but it’s just very different from my life. But there were a few scenes that I could really relate to. There was a scene also where the women that played the biological mother just fell down the door weeping over her, over what she had done, and really the actress, Sherry Rigsby, said, “That was real,” that scene where she was weeping because she had an abortion. And she said the Lord came to her in that scene and began to heal her. And there were just moments that I could relate to in the film, and I’m really grateful for that, and really appreciative of the Irwin Brothers who put that together. I think it’s a gentle way of getting the truth across to people in an issue that people really don’t want to discuss.
JOHN RUSTIN: You mentioned a little bit earlier that you have forgiven your birth mother, who you met several years ago when she actually approached you, as I understand it, at a pro-life conference. What was that meeting like for you, and for her?
GIANNA JESSEN: It was absolutely stunning, because my adoptive mother had met with her and told her my forgiveness, that I’m a Christian, but that I respectfully didn’t want relationship, but I wanted her to know that. And she continued to not have a very high regard for my life, so she came anyway, and had been watching me for quite some time at an event waiting for the time to come in and let me know, and she just come up and said, “Hi, I am your mother,” and no warning, nothing, except for I should have had a clue, as a Christian for two weeks prior there was this voice in my heart, the Holy Spirit said, “Now what would you do if your biological mother came to an event? What would you say, how would you handle it, what would you do if she disrupted it?” But anyway she came up and said, “I am your mother.” And I said, “You know, ma’am, you need to know and hear that I forgive you, that I’m a Christian.” She said, “I don’t want your forgiveness.” And I said, “Ma’am, I’m a Christian and I forgive you.” And she said, “I don’t want your forgiveness, and your father, etc. and you’re this, and you’re that and you’re the other thing….” And at this very moment, the Lord said so clearly in my heart, “Gianna, you are a little princess, stand up and speak with the authority of one!” And I stood up, and I said “Ma’am, I am a Christian and I forgive you, but I will no longer allow you to speak to me in this manner.” And I walked out. The reason I tell you that piece of it is because we are cultivating a nation of victims, and I am no victim. I am not defined by what she says, or by what anyone says. I am in Jesus, and I am dynamite, and I’m defined by Him! So anyone listening whose been through horrific things, you can choose today to be a victim or not.
JOHN RUSTIN: Absolutely. Well praise God for that, and for the Spirit leading you in that way. It’s just amazing…. Before we go, Gianna, just based on the story that you’ve shared with us, your incredible testimony, your incredible experience and your heart-felt desire for women who have had abortion or may be in a circumstance where they’re even considering that right now, what would you say to an abortion-minded women, who may be listening and is facing an unplanned pregnancy, and feels like abortion may be their only option?
GIANNA JESSEN: I would say, text help 313131, and that will connect you to your local pregnancy resource center. All their services are confidential and free, they offer guidance and hope and help and show you that you are not alone. You can also punch in “pregnancy resource center” and your town into Google, and you’ll be connected to them. But this is definitely not the end of your life. This is, in many ways, the beginning of so much of your life, and God will absolutely be with you and not forsake you in this.
JOHN RUSTIN: Thank you for sharing that. Well, Gianna, we are just about out of time for this week. I do want to let you share with our listeners before we go how they can hear more about your story and learn more about your incredible work to speak up for the sanctity of human life.
GIANNA JESSEN: If people are interested in booking for me as a speaker, or whatever they have in mind, they can just go to my website, which is Giannajessen.com.
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