England is abuzz about "The Boy Who Lived," and no, his name isn't Harry Potter, but he did survive a deliberate attempt on his life. Two, in fact, while still in his mother's womb.
The boy, Gabriel Jones, was the weaker twin and had an enlarged heart. Doctors told his mother that they believed he would die in the womb, and if he did, they said, that would cause his brother to die, too.
The despondent mother, Rebecca Jones, agreed to terminate Gabriel to save his twin brother, Ieuan. First doctors attempted to sever his umbilical cord, but according to published reports, the cord proved too strong. So they halved Jones' placenta to allow Gabriel to die without harm to Ieuan.
Instead, the tiny boy thrived, and both children were born by caesarian section five weeks later. They are happy, healthy children, with the bright eyes, gummy smiles and wispy hair of adorable infants.
Gabriel and his family are thrice blessed. Many children who survive "failed abortions" face lifelong health problems or disabilities. And unlike Gabriel, they are born to mothers who didn't want the child to see the light of day. Likely unaware that failed abortion was a risk, they live with a potent brew of mixed emotions, including anger at the doctors, anger at themselves, maternal love and obligation to the children, and guilt and shame over the abortion and any after-effects the children suffer.
Some states even allow "wrongful birth" lawsuits in which mothers of "abortion survivors" have sought to recoup the costs of the abortion procedures, of care for a child facing medical problems owing to the failed abortion, and in a few states, of caring for a healthy child.
In 2004, a study in Great Britain found that 50 babies a year live through abortion attempts there. In the U.S., in 2002 Congress passed the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, which made it the law of the land that a child who survives an abortion attempt is immediately entitled to emergency medical treatment and is not to suffer neglect until he dies, as some hospitals had reportedly dealt with abortion survivors.
The most well-known abortion survivor is Gianna Jessen, who survived saline injection at seven and a half months. Jessen suffers cerebral palsy as a result, but she sings, runs marathons, and uses her example to fight abortion, traveling the world speaking out against the legal medical procedure that very nearly killed her. She has testified before state legislatures, Congress, and the House of Lords. Her amazing story can be read in Jessica Shaver's book Gianna: Aborted … and Lived to Tell About It.
Last year Jessen made a memorable appearance before the Colorado House of Representatives. She was invited to sing the national anthem there by Rep. Ted Harvey, R-Highlands Ranch. Her affliction caused her to lose her balance, and her nerves caused her to falter, and everyone present joined with her to encourage her.
When she was done, Harvey introduced her to the chamber. He spoke of her cerebral palsy from a traumatic birth, her life in foster homes before being adopted, how she struggled even to lift her head, then crawl and walk, and how she now runs in marathons to raise awareness of cerebral palsy. Harvey called her a modern day hero, and Jessen received a standing ovation.
Harvey wasn't done. On the docket that day was a resolution to honor the 90th anniversary of the Rocky Mountain Planned Parenthood clinic. Harvey then revealed the cause of Jessen's cerebral palsy: the failed abortion at a Planned Parenthood clinic. He was gaveled down, of course, but he told the Speaker, "I just wanted to put a face to what we are celebrating today."
House Democrats fumed. Majority Leader Alice Madden told the Denver Post that Harvey had been "amazingly rude to use a human being as an example of his personal politics."
Jessen, who presumably would have known she had been used, told the Post, "We need to discuss the humanity of it [abortion]. I'm glad to be able to speak up for children in the womb. If abortion is about women's rights, where were my rights?"
It's no coincidence that we speak of the miracle of childbirth. But it is especially miraculous when God preserves the life of a baby whose mother chose to abort only because it seemed the only way to preserve the life of his twin -- thus out of her despair seeing her hope and joy divinely restored. And it is awe-inspiring when he raises up another miraculous abortion survivor to go to the halls of power across the world and speak out against the grisly practice.