“What Were My Rights in the Womb?”: Abortion Survivors Speak Out on Late-Term Abortion Laws


While advocates of the controversial late-term abortion laws argue that the new legislation is a matter of women’s rights, abortion survivors argue that this is, in fact, a human rights issue.

Melissa Ohden, Claire Culwell, and Josiah Presley sat down with “Fox & Friends” to share their stories of survival that are now shedding new light on the late-term abortion issue.

Melissa Ohden

Melissa Ohden, survivor of a failed saline abortion and founder of the Abortion Survivors Network, says her mother had an abortion during her pregnancy with her in the summer of 1977.

Her mother was an unwed college student who was pressured to abort her baby. She was almost [eight] months pregnant when she went into the hospital to terminate her pregnancy. Medical staff administered a saline solution for an abortion that’s designed to fill the amniotic sack and scald the child to [die] from the outside in.

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“I soaked in that toxic salt solution for five days,” said Melissa.

Five days later, her mom returned to the hospital to deliver what she assumed would be a stillborn baby — but that didn’t happen. Believing that the abortion procedure had worked, the medical professionals discarded Melissa’s body.

Thankfully, the nurses on duty heard her soft cries and saved her life, after which she was adopted into a loving family who had struggled with infertility for 15 years.

Melissa has now forgiven her mother and knows that she’s not the only misguided woman who’s been under such pressure.

“So many women are forced, coerced, forced, don’t know what resources exist in their communities. Maybe you’re completely unsupported so I want women to know there are resources in every community,” Melissa told Fox. “They can always contact any of us. You’re never alone.”

People are often shocked that Melissa does not suffer from any of the disabilities doctors predicted her to have due to her trauma in the womb. The proud survivor attributes her health to the power of love.

“This is what love does,” she said. “It saves lives. It brings us to life.”

Josiah Presley

Josiah Presley is the survivor of a curettage abortion that his mother underwent at two months pregnant. Since the curettage procedure involves tearing the baby apart inside the womb, he believes that is most likely the cause of his missing limb.

“A curettage abortion is a type of abortion where the doctor goes into the mother’s womb and basically rips the baby apart and brings them out in pieces, and that’s actually why we think that I’m probably missing an arm today,” said Josiah. “So, she had the procedure at two months and then at five months realized that I was still alive. That the abortion failed.”

Josiah has since been adopted by a loving Christian family in Oklahoma, who took him in because of their strong faith. His father, a Southern Baptist worship pastor, and his wife now have 12 kids — with 10 being through adoption.

“What has caused them to adopt us is the gospel,” shared Josiah. “The fact that they’ve been changed by God to love others and His work in their life then causes them to love those around them and then gives them the pro-life conviction to then want to take in these children and make us their own. Just as God has made them His children, they make us their children.”

The survivor is passionately against abortion at any stage and holds that society’s “arbitrary” definition of life has led to the murder of so many babies.

“If abortion is legal in the first trimester and the second trimester, then the next step is, why not the third trimester? Why not right after they’re born?” questioned Josiah, adding that “people are people at conception, and we should care about their personhood then, not after they’re born, because this is what we’re left with when we have those kinds of arbitrary criteria for personhood.”

Claire Culwell

At only 13 years old, Claire Culwell’s mom had a D&C (dilation and curettage) surgical late-term abortion five months into her pregnancy.

The then-eighth-grader was told that the procedure was a success, but one of the twins survived. Though she attempted to follow up with a second late-term abortion, she was unable to due to the risk of infection. Though Culwell had many physical complications as she developed over the years, she is now living a full life.

She didn’t discover that she was an abortion survivor until she eventually met her biological mother who shared the story.

“It’s shocking to me that people no longer in our country care about what is true and right,” said Culwell. “We know that a baby is what is inside a mother’s womb based on medical technology and science. We just hope that because people can see our faces and see that we are people. We are human. We do grow up to be someone someday, that people will realize that those women do not speak for women like me.”

For those proponents of late-term abortion, Culwell has two questions:

“Where were my rights as a woman? What were my rights in the womb?

She has since forgiven her mother and believes that God had a beautiful sovereign plan for the family she was adopted into.

“God created our family, and I owe my parents so much credit for the way I was able to respond to my birth mother when she told me because they raised me on love and grace and forgiveness,” she shared.

Culwell added that ‘forgiveness’ and ‘redemption’ have played a major role in all of their survivor stories:

“All three of us have forgiven our birth mothers because we know that they had no idea what they were getting into when they had an abortion.”

Melissa, Josiah, and Claire pray that their lives may be a voice and tangible representation of the unborn so that women may have the courage to choose life.

Kelsey Straeter
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Kelsey is an editor at Outreach. She’s passionate about fear fighting, freedom writing, and the pursuit of excellence in the name of crucifying perfectionism. Glitter is her favorite color, 2nd only to pink, and 3rd only to pink glitter.