Stories of Survival
Accepted the risk of dying rather than undergo a medical treatment that would have caused an abortion.
Twins -- one aborted, one survives! Sarah tells her story.
Audrey Marie Santo was an American young woman from Massachusetts through whom miracles were said to have happened after she suffered severe brain damage in a near-drowning accident.
Gianna Jensen was aborted and lived to tell about it.
Hand of Hope "The tiny hand of 21-week-old fetus Samuel Armas emerges from the mother's uterus to grasp the finger of Dr. Bruner as if thanking the doctor for the gift of life. "
Audrey, a prayer model for all of us. Audrey was only three years old, but she already knew what she wanted.
Saint Gianna Beretta Molla
She was born in Magenta, province of Milan (north Italy), on October 4th, 1922. After high school she enrolled in the Medicine surgery faculty at Pavia University. Graduated in November 1949 she specialized in Pediatrics at the Milano University and - while practicing medicine - she continued studying gynecology specialization. She got ahead with all her tasks with the will and enthusiasm necessary for being in conformity to the grace of God, with the everyday Holy Communion and God's word support, by becoming an active part in the Catholic Action Group, by the concrete participation in all the "Saint Vincent" activities.
The study of medicine was not a novelty in her family, but in her case it gave her the opportunity of a particular Apostolate: The Latin America Missions, collaborating with her brother who was a priest there.
For a long time, she cultivated the missionary ideal, but very slowly she understood that God's will was different.
When she clearly understood that God called her to the marital status she did not hesitate and the fields of her "missionary action" were the "fellow creatures" coming every day at her consulting room. She opened a surgery in Mesero, a little village near Magenta and in a short time she earned the respect of all the people as they appreciated her spirit of self-sacrifice and disinterestedness.
Virginia, her sister, testifies: "Her great need to do everything for the poor people unable her to accept her fiancé's proposal to renounce medical practice: She firmly refused it without hesitation and also after her marriage she always went to her surgery in Mesero every afternoon. Many other evidences give us the impression of "how" Gianna practiced her profession. Luigia Galli, a nurse, working in Gianna's surgery said: "Visiting sick people, she also teached them."During the last month of pregnancy, even if she was called in the night she promptly attended everyone. She carried on every medical care until the last day before giving birth to her last daughter. If the patient was poor, Gianna not only would give him free medical examination, but also free medicines or some money.
She would leave the surgery just after her last medical examination: Sometimes it was after 9:30 PM."
Mariuccia Parmigiani - a friend of hers - says that by her good and jovial smile she won everybody's confidence... and Maria Barni, living in Mesero, confirms that her generous engagements were not only addressed to physical treatments: "When a patient could not go on in doing the same kind of work for healthy reasons, she tried to find for him a more suitable job and very often she succeeded in doing it for a lot of people."
This attitude is not taken for granted: We know very well that sick person in a ward are considered
as "a number", or quite an enrichment source. "Do your duty well. Study your science well.
Today there is a seeking after money", Gianna writes at the beginning of her practice as a doctor.
"Today, unfortunately, there is much superficiality even in our work. We cure the body and this,
many times, inadequately." Gianna pointed out this concept in the fifties, but even today these
deficiencies in medical profession are extremely topical.
In 1923, Saint Joseph Moscati writing to a doctor friend said: "Remember that you have to deal
not only with the bodies, but also the moaning souls coming to you. How many suffering people
you will more easily soothe by advising and going straight to their souls, instead of giving cool
prescriptions to be given to the chemist! Be joyful, because great will be your reward; but you
will have to set a good example of your elevation to God."
It is the same aspect advice that Gianna Beretta expressed speaking about the characteristics of a
Christian doctor: "Never forget the patient's soul." "We have many opportunities which priests do
not have. Our mission does not end when medicines fail us; there is the soul which we must bring
to God. [...] Every doctor must consign the sick person to the priest. How necessary these Catholic
doctors are!" And... besides: "Jesus makes Himself seen in our midst. Many doctors offer themselves for Him."
Our life is always the result of a lot of successive "choices", from the most "important" to the simple ones. Gianna "trained" herself to choose always the best and she also wanted consciously that her married life be devoted to God.
"I want really a Christian family - she wrote to her husband - where God is like one of the family; a little cenaculum where He can reign in our hearts, enlighten our decisions and guide our programmes."
Here we find the "secret" of her existence, the key to understand the reason of all her choices and even the conclusive choice in consequence of which she has been now beatified: To see every situation in our life under God's look; to be disposed to understand His will as far as we are concerned, so that it is really God "Who enlightens our decisions."
"I want to create a family with you, with many children like the one in which I was raised", she said to her husband Peter. They had three children: Pier Luigi, Mariolina and Laura - and then another maternity, accepted with joy.
At this point the tragedy occurred: The discovery at the second month of pregnancy, of a fibroma growing near her uterus threatening both her health and her child's life. She sudden realized, as a doctor, of the dramatic alternative: To save herself or the creature she is carrying.According to the unanimous deposition of both her family and doctors, her first reaction was to privilege the child she was carrying.
The doctor to whom she asked advice said clearly to her: "If we want to save your life we have to interrupt your pregnancy." There it was her prompt answer: "Professor, I'll never permit this! It is a sin to kill babies in the womb."
The doctors pointed out three different types of operation, as her husband testifies: a total laparatomy with the removal of both the fibroma and the uterus, it would certainly have saved her life; therapeutic abortion and the removal of the fibroma, and this would have made possible other pregnancies. Otherwise the removal of the fibroma, trying not interrupting her pregnancy.
Gianna chose the last solution, the most dangerous for her. In fact in those times a childbirth was to be expected very dangerous for the mother, after such an operation. Gianna, as a doctor, knew this very well...
The surgical operation, of just removing her fibroma, took place on September 6th 1961.Therefore the pregnancy went on and Gianna began working again as long as a doctor up to her childbirth approached. She went into a nursing home on April 20th in 1962 and the following day - the Holy Saturday - she gave birth to a child: a little girl named Gianna Emanuela.
In September 1961, towards the end of the second month of pregnancy, she was touched by suffering and the mystery of pain; she had developed a fibroma in her uterus. Before the required surgical operation, and conscious of the risk that her continued pregnancy brought, she pleaded with the surgeon to save the life of the child she was carrying, and entrusted herself to prayer and Providence. The life was saved, for which she thanked the Lord. She spent the seven months
remaining until the birth of the child in incomparable strength of spirit and unrelenting dedication
to her tasks as mother and doctor. She worried that the baby in her womb might be born in
pain, and she asked God to prevent that.
A few days before the child was due, although trusting as always in Providence, she was ready to
give her life in order to save that of her child: "If you must decide between me and the child, do
not hesitate: Choose the child - I insist on it. Save the baby". On the morning of 21 April 1962
Gianna Emanuela was born. As it was to be expected, a few hours after her childbirth,
complications arose and it was a week of horrible sufferings in consequence of septic peritonitis.
Despite all efforts and treatments to save both of them, on the morning of 28 April, amid
unspeakable pain and after repeated exclamations of "Jesus, I love you. Jesus, I love you", the
mother died. She was 39 years old. Her funeral was an occasion of profound grief, faith
and prayer. The body of the newly blessed lies in the cemetery of Mesero (4 km. from Magenta).
It was a Calvary during which her faith was fully shining. She died at home the following
Saturday at 8:00 a.m. on April 28th 1962.
On April 24th 1994, her last daughter, Gianna Emanuela, was present in Saint Peter square at
her mother's Beatification ceremony.
The heroic life of Gianna Beretta Molla makes us reflect on a theme that nowadays is topical. The discussion on abortion about the value to be given to the developing creature conceived in the womb. As every believer does, Gianna was deeply convinced that the developing creature in her womb was a complete human person, therefore worthy of the highest respect. It was a gift from God, to be accepted as all the other children.That is indeed love, Gianna forgot herself and generously offered herself to let her creature live, knowing very well that the cost of her offer would require the sacrifice of her life.
A priest known by Gianna, Father Marius Cazzaniga, wrote: "I had such a great impression that in my professional moral teaching at the professional nurse school, during the abortion lessons, I always mention Gianna Beretta Molla's case, as a generous and exemplary maternity. I think that nowadays when the maternity is depreciated, this woman doctor's generous act is to be let known by everybody. Society doesn't need to be submerged by a lot of crime news, it needs to know such generous actions."
We conclude with Gianna's words addressed to a young people Catholic Action Group of Magenta in 1946: "God wants to see us near Him, to transmit us in the secret of our prayer the conversion of all the souls approaching us. [...] In every day of our life we should have a moment's time to collect our thoughts in prayer before God. [...] Sowing our little seed incessantly. Let us not stop too much considering what will happen. Even if after having done our best we have a failure, let us generously accept it. A well accepted failure gives more benefit for the salvation of the soul than a triumph".
Words that for those who know Joseph Moscati's works, make them think about his famous thought expressed on October 17 in 1922. Thought that is a summary of his life as a doctor, as a man of science and faith: "Love truth: Show yourself as you are, without pretense, without fears and cares. And if the truth means your persecution, accept it; if it means your torment, bear it. And if for the truth's sake you should sacrifice yourself and your life, be strong in your sacrifice".
A Pro-life Icon to Be Canonized Gianna Molla Gave Her Life for Unborn Daughter
May 13, 2004
VATICAN CITY, MAY 13, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Among the six people to be canonized Sunday is Gianna Beretta Molla, who accepted the risk of dying rather than undergo a medical treatment that would have caused an abortion. "She lived her marriage and maternity with joy, generosity and absolute fidelity to her mission," the prefect of the Congregation for Sainthood Causes, Cardinal José Saraiva Martins, said last December, at the ceremony to recognize the miracle that opened the way for Molla's canonization.
Molla is the first woman of Catholic Action who will be proclaimed a saint. She was born in Magenta, Italy, on Oct. 4, 1922, in a family of 13 siblings. She studied medicine, a family tradition.
The fruit of her faith was reflected in her apostolate in Catholic Action and the St. Vincent de Paul Society, where she dedicated herself to young people and charitable service to the elderly and needy. She received her doctor's degree in medicine and surgery in 1949 from the University of Pavia, and in 1950 opened an outpatient clinic in Mesero. Two years later, she specialized in pediatrics at the University of Milan.
After an exemplary existence as a student, as a girl fully engaged in the ecclesiastical community, as a wife and a happy mother, She offered and sacrificed her life in order that the creature she was carrying could live. Today she is here with us! As a doctor and moreover as a surgeon, she was conscious about what she had to face but she did not fell back in front of any sacrifice".
With these words John Paul II has synthesized all the existence of Gianna Beretta Molla, during the solemn Beatification rite on April 24th 1994, the year consecrated to the Family. She was canonized on Sunday, May 16, 2004.
Showing her as a model of perfection "we want to homage - the Pope said - all the courageous mothers devoting themselves to their families without reserve, those who suffer in giving birth to their children and afterwards facing any sacrifice, to transmit all the best they guard in themselves to them."
As it often happens, a heroic deed can just be accomplished if it is the result of a long inner maturation, above all if it is a fully conscious and deliberate action.
Gianna's profoundly Christian Family had been for all the numerous children, a suitable background for a progressive deep-rooted faith values in the every day actions. And from this "good tree" many excellent fruits arose.
Gianna Beretta Molla with her husband Peter, in 1957
Gianna Beretta Molla
Audrey was only three years old, but she already knew what she wanted.
Her parents had just taken her to visit the birthplace of St Therese in Lisieux, France.
As they were leaving the home, little fun-loving Audrey looked up at her parents and
announced, "I want to enter the Carmel and offer my life to Jesus."
Dumbfounded, Audrey's parents didn't know what to say they couldn't even imagine
where she had gotten the idea. But in the days ahead, the intensity of Audrey's faith
would become even clearer.
At the age of 7, Audrey was stricken with leukemia. The disease quickly ravaged her body, and it broke Audrey's heart when she was no longer able to play with her little friends. But she didn't complain. Each day she offered her suffering to Christ, with a special intention -vocations.
In fact when she was down, Audrey would usually smile and say, "Thank you, Lord! Your will be done!" Everyone was astonished at her faith. Especially when in her pain she would respond, "Let's do what the Lord Jesus tells us in the Gospel, and take things one day at a time. 'The birds neither sow nor reap...'," Then she would smile and laugh.
Through chemotherapy, radiation and even a bone marrow transplant -- all procedures thatcause extreme fatigue, sickness, and discomfort -- Audrey simply chose not to complain. Instead she blessed others by being happy and playful -- always joking and making people laugh.
When the doctors wanted her to begin walking again after treatment, and she was too tired or too ill, she said she would follow St. Therese's example and walk for a seminarian. Through it all, Audrey offered her joy, her hope, and even her suffering for vocations.
Her faith did not go unnoticed, and there were moments of exceptional Grace. One was a private Mass with the Holy Father. He even spoke to her privately for a few minutes -- and Audrey told him a secret.
It involved a particular young man she had been praying for. Later, as Audrey's health was failing, her mother told her that he had just left to join a seminary. With that information, Audrey sighed and said, "Oh, then I can rest now." With a sweet smile she then slipped into a semi-coma. It was as if she had been fighting off fatigue just to be sure her prayers for this future seminarian were heard.
On the feast day of Mary, Queen of Heaven, August 22, 1991, Audrey was born into eternity. Her last words were, "My Lord, protect me."
Audrey, A Prayer Model for All of Us
A Prayer to Little Audrey:
Oh wonderful little Audrey on whom God has deigned to prove His love for the innocent
and pure of heart by indelibly stamping His seal of salvation on you for our sanctification
and salvation. I-We beg you to intercede for us poor sinners for the grace and courage to
bear wholeheartedly whatever cross God has chosen
for us before the foundation of the world. Your silence is more eloquent than a thousand
words. Your sufferings and resignation to His holy will is a soothing balm for the wounds of
Jesus and His cross, so despised and rejected in these days of darkness.
Little Audrey Santo lives in Worcester, Massachusetts. The change in Little Audrey's life began on a hot summer day, August 9, 1987, when Audrey was three years old. She was playing in the driveway with Stephen, her brother. It was on this day that Audrey fell into the family swimming pool, even though she had been afraid of water.
Audrey recovered but was rushed to the hospital where she was overmedicated. The doctor prescribed too much Phenobarbital, and Audrey lapsed into a coma. The hospital's physical therapist broke Audrey's legs and dislocated her shoulder. Then the doctor insisted on insertion of a tracheotomy tube. She remained in ICU with 24-hour nursing care.
She was out of the coma in three weeks. She remains in a state called Akinetic Mutism - non-moving, non-speaking. The "professionals" insisted that Audrey be placed in an institution. Audrey's mother Linda, felt that I she would receive better care being home with her family. So in November four months following the accident, Audrey was brought home.
Right from the beginning in the hospital hundreds of people came to pray for Audrey. Old friends, relatives and even strangers. Catholics and people from other faiths came, sent prayers, cards and gifts to! Audrey. The hospital was so inundated with people, media and phone calls they eventually put Audrey in a private room in the PICU. For some reason God wanted Audrey to be known right from the beginning; St. Paul tells us in scripture God sends us signs and wonders to get our attention. So is this what God; is doing with Audrey?
We believe that signs and wonders are manifesting with Audrey, around her and about her. Audrey seems to manifest unexplainable (medically) marks on her body that resemble the wounds of Christ. St. Paul also tells us that we must offer up our suffering to continue for Christ's redemptive suffering. We also know Jesus Christ is the ultimate Victim. Suffering is not useless when offered up. We believe that Audrey does this. Suffering united to Christ takes on meaning.
The religious images that exude oil and blood are unexplainable to us. We believe because of the good; fruits these unexplained happenings are of God. The Bishop's commission has stated clearly they have found no trickery.
The healings that take place here are not completely investigated by the Bishop's Commission but they are open to a full study in order to validate any claims. Prayer works therefore anytime Jesus tells us "there are more than two gathered in My name. . ." The greatest healing power God has left us in His Son, Jesus Christ, in the Eucharist. We must receive Him everyday and visit Him often. If we don't do this the fault lies with us. Audrey brings us to the Eucharist. There are four consecrated hosts that have exhibited human blood, this does not mean these four hosts are better than any other consecrated host. This simply means that God in His goodness has given us a profound and awesome gift. Again signs and wonders to get our attention. Audrey is also clearly telling us God doesn't make junk! That life is valuable at any level. We live in an epidemic of unmercy. So therefore Audrey is a sign of hope and mercy. We believe even though Audrey does not walk or talk that she is valuable and God chose her as He often chooses the seemingly inadequate, unproductive but mostly the pure and innocent to convey His message. In a world of infanticide, homicide and genocide God wants us to choose the right side.
We place our confidence in faith, therefore believing this is to prove there is life in the Eucharist and the value of life in us.Father Sylvester Catallo O.F .M., Cap., (a former translator for the Marian Movement of Priests founder, Father Don Stefano Gobbi) regards the child as a "pure" soul. Having resigned herself to God's will prior to the age of seven (the age of reason), it is unlikely that Audrey has ever sinned. Father Emmanuel Charles McCarthy, a Massachusetts based Melkite Catholic priest whose ministry centers around justice and peace, believes that the little girl is redemptively connected with the sins of nuclear destruction. Significant dates in Audrey's life often echo monumental historic events as well. August 9th, 11:03 am., the first recorded medical entry on the day of the drowning accident, is also the exact date and time of Ithe bombing of Nagasaki some forty-two years earlier. The date of Audrey's initial release from the hospital, November 14th, is the anniversary of the bombing of the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Americas, in 1921.
Father Rene Laurentin, a member If the Council of Doctrine and Faith and world-renowned theologian, concluded a four year personal investigation into the life of Audrey Santo. The esteemed Catholic scholar expects to report his favorable findings to the council. He visited Little Audrey in July 1993 and was deeply moved by being in her presence and stated "This is Holy Ground." Little Audrey is a soul!truly blessed and chosen by God.
It is imperative that Audrey's role, regardless of its magnitude, be kept in perspective. She is an instrument, an extraordinary one to be sure, but an instrument nevertheless. Audrey is fed by a "g-tube" but she does consume one thing, and one thing alone by mouth: the Eucharist. Each day, Audrey receives her precious Jesus in the greatest miracle of all.
Although we must not so elevate Audrey that we lose sight of Jesus, neither should we discount or ignore His gift of Audrey to us. Let us go to this little thornless rose and ask for her assistance that like her, we too may truly become one with Christ. "But if we are children, we are heirs as well: Heirs of God, heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with Him so as to be glorified with Him."
As difficult as life for this family sounds, their home is so peaceful and full of love. When you meet Linda and Steve you would not think they have a care in the world. You can write to little Audrey and your letters will be read in Audrey's room and placed before the Tabernacle.
Bishop Daniel Reilly of Worcester, Massachusetts has set up a commission of psychologists, doctors; and a theologian to study the events at Little Audrey's. The first phase of the investigation is over - we are soon to begin the second phase. We also remain obedient to him and the Pope in all matters of faith and doctrine. We would like to add, were profoundly affected by Bishop Reilly's visit and blessings.
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Little Audrey Santo
Pictured here are Sarah Smith and her mother Betty. In 1970, Betty tried to abort Sarah in Los Angeles. At the time, Betty did not know she was pregnant with twins. One baby was aborted, but miraculously, Sarah survived. Sarah has forgiven her mother -- and for five years they traveled the world speaking together about the pain and suffering caused by abortion. Below is Sarah's story, followed by the speech she gave in Rome in 1996.
Twins -- one aborted, one survives!
Sarah tells her story . . .
"Twenty-nine years ago, my mother decided to have an abortion. At the time, she was pregnant with twins, but nobody knew this, not even her doctor. My tiny brother and I were both there growing in her womb, until that dreadful day. Before the abortion, we were both alive. Moments later, I was alone.
It's frightening to think I was almost aborted when my mom had a D&C abortion. Somehow, miraculously, I survived! My twin brother wasn't so lucky. Andrew was aborted and we lost him forever.
Several weeks later, my mother was shocked to feel me kicking in her womb. She already had five children and she knew what it felt like when a baby kicked in the womb. She instantly knew that somehow she was still pregnant. She went back to the doctor and told him she was still pregnant...that she had made a big mistake and that she wanted to keep this baby. To this day, my mother deeply regrets that abortion. I know the pain is unbearable for her at times when she looks at me and knows she aborted my twin brother. Mom says 'the protective hand of Almighty God saved my life . . . that God's hand covered and hid me in her womb, and protected me from the scalpel of death.
After surviving the abortion, I was born with bilateral, congenital dislocated hips and many other physical handicaps. Nine days after I was born, I was taken to an orthopedic surgeon who applied a cast to each of my tiny legs. My mom would remove these casts with pliers every Monday morning and take me to the doctor to have new casts put on.
At six weeks I was put into my first body cast. Many surgeries and body cast followed over the next few years. Unfortunately, doctors are telling me that now I'll need surgeries about every 5 years (please pray for me).
Today, I thank God I survived the abortion, but the pain continues for everyone in my family. In memory of my brother Andrew, we bought a memorial gravestone and placed it in a cemetery in Southern California. It reads:
ANDREW JAMES SMITH, TWIN BROTHER OF SARAH -- IN OUR HEARTS YOU'LL ALWAYS BE ALIVE -- NOVEMBER 1970
Please share our story with others so the tragedy of abortion stops hurting babies and families. Everyone needs to know the truth about abortion. Thank you."
Sarah's Speech In Rome
On April 24, 1996, Sarah Smith gave the following speech at an international pro-life conference in Rome. The conference was called, "A Congress for Life."
It was organized to celebrate the first anniversary of Pope John Paul II's encyclical letter Evangelium Vitae - The Gospel of Life. The conference was held at the Legionaries of Christ seminary in Rome and was attended by approximately 500 men and women including; pro-life leaders, political leaders, media representatives, priests and seminarians.
Following is the speech given by Sarah Smith:
"My name is Sarah Smith and I wish to thank you all, your eminencies, and all of the wonderful Legionaries of Christ for allowing us to be with you today. I did not know of the abortion until I was 12 years old. I grew up feeling that I was the same as my friends, except for having numerous surgeries and physical complications. The only difference I felt was an incredible loneliness and a knowledge that something was missing. I never felt whole. I battled with severe depression and found myself dying of anorexia nervosa at age 12, when my mother knew it was time to tell me the truth. She sat next to me and took my hand and looked me in the eyes and said, "Sarah, you are a twin. I aborted your twin brother and tried to abort you. Please know I did not know what I was doing and I pray someday you are able to forgive me. I love you and need you to know that you are a welcome part of our family."
At that moment I knew what I had been missing all my life and that I was called to something much greater than I had knowledge of. Immediately I felt the overwhelming pain of the knowledge that I should be dead. As I stand before you today I am painfully aware that this is only possible because my twin brother took a scalpel for me, and I stand in his place and memory, giving him honor and a face.
We have become bombarded with statistics in our fight for life. Thirty-two million babies are killed in the United States alone. Yet every one had a face, a life, a creator who loved them and created them in His image. As you look at me today, you realize that I am no different than you, yet I stand before you today a representative of the dead -- a representative of the innocent lives who today may lose their lives. Who will speak for them?
The words of Christ are clear - "What you have done to the least of these you have done unto me." You and I are called and commissioned to care for these little ones just as we would care for Jesus Himself. To walk away and say this is not my problem is to walk away from Jesus Himself.Many people upon finding out about the abortion ask me how did I feel, or to what can I compare this to. The only thing I can compare my life to is that of an innocent Jew being made to walk down the streets of Germany naked in front of many people and into a room he knows he will never come out of. In my case, unfortunately, the people leading me into that room are my mother and father. Yet the people looking on at the sidelines are people like you. And I ask you today, will you speak up or will you silently look away as another person who needs your help is led to their death?
I have forgiven my parents long ago as I remember the words Jesus spoke as he hung bleeding and bruised from the cross, "Forgive them Father for they know not what they do." His words pertain to the sins of abortion. Most men and women who involve themselves with abortion don't know what they're doing, as were my parents.
Many women who demand the right to an abortion say, "It's my body, it's my choice." Let me make one thing very clear to you today - my mother's choice was my death sentence. It is not only a woman's body we are discussing in an abortion. It is the entire flesh and blood of someone just like me.
Then we have the issue of medical personnel stating it is just tissue. For anyone who has ever studied biology, you know better. Before any woman even knows she is pregnant her child already has a beating heart at 20 days. Show me one piece of tissue or cancer you believe must be cut out with a beating heart. Show me a liver or kidney that has it's own blood type. That child is perfect from it's first day. All it needs is time, oxygen and nutrition.
Another startling fact is that in medical journals it states the fetus is capable of feeling pain at 8 weeks of gestation. In America, the vast majority of abortions are performed between 10 to 12 weeks, well after the child can feel the entire procedure. So don't tell me abortion is a simple procedure that expels a piece of tissue and doesn't hurt anybody. I was there. I was less then an inch away from my innocent twin brother when his body was ripped apart, and he felt the entire thing. We were 14 to 16 weeks along in the second trimester. That was how my life was meant to end.
Yet I was spared to stand before you today and tell you on behalf of those who have no voice that if you remain silent, in my country alone a person just like you and me will die every 20 seconds of every day. We have been commissioned by Jesus to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves and we have also been commissioned by the Holy Father, who I had the privilege of meeting a few hours ago.
As I told him my story he looked at me so intensely as if to say, "Speak the message! Proclaim the Truth!" And then he kissed me and gave me a blessing to go and speak about life. And that is what he says to all of you as he blesses and kisses us with his Encyclical. Preach the gospel - the good news of life. What is the greatest gift of all? When Jesus outstretched His arms and said, "This is my body given up for you". Imagine if Jesus had been selfish with His body and not given so freely of His life to you and me. Where would we be today? We would be nothing. The gift of a mother's body for 9 months of her life is one of the most beautiful gifts of all time. We must fight to protect it.
As I stand here alone knowing I have my brother as a precious guardian angel who is with me always, I know my life is a gift. And today I wish to give it back to you, the people and to the church, as a symbol of the consuming power of God's redemption and of His life and truth. You and I as a church represent life, and together we will extend that life into a hurting and dying world. We will give them the truth of life and we shall never be silent.
I love you and God bless you."
Sarah Meeting Pope John Paul II
in April 1996 in Rome.
Gianna Jensen was Aborted
and Lived to Tell About It
April 6, 1977
It was early morning when 17-year-old Tina entered the abortion clinic. After signing a few papers,
she received a saline injection and was told to lie down in a large barrack-like room lined with beds.
During the day, about 30 pregnant teenage girls went into labor-and delivered dead babies.
Meanwhile, Tina was still waiting for the contractions to start. The doctor called it a day, leaving a solitary nurse on duty. Close to midnight, Tina's water broke. She awoke the sleeping nurse and told her what had happened. "Okay," the nurse responded. "Go back and lie down." But something uncomfortable was happening. Tina felt the need to push, to expel this unknown substance. Tissue, the professionals called it. Fetal tissue.
By the time she got back to bed, the muscles in her abdomen were contracting incessantly. She had to push--and the nurse still had not responded to her second call.
Reaching down, she felt the wet solid curve of a skull. It's a head! She thought. Haw can tissue have a head?
At that instant, a thin, penetrating wail pierced the quiet room, where earlier a roomful of
women had delivered limp, lifeless fetuses. A baby girl was making a triumphant, indignant way into the world.
December 25, 1989
Diana DePaul was in her Southern California home preparing a Christmas dinner when 12-year-old daughter, Gianna, walked in. Diana had adopted Gianna when she was 4 years old.
"Need any help?" Gianna asked.
"No, it won't be long," replied her mom, as she wrestled with the turkey. She took a step back, bumping into Gianna, who was trying to peer over her shoulder.
"Oops!" Gianna said as she stumbled back out of the way. She was quiet for a moment.
"Mom, why do I have cerebral palsy? There must be a reason for it." It wasn't the first time Gianna asked about her disability, and Diana's standard answer was: "You had a traumatic birth. You were born premature."
This time Diana sensed that Gianna wasn't satisfied with that pat answer anymore. As many times as Diana had thought about this moment, she never expected it would come on Christmas Day. I guess she's ready, Diana thought. As she started to break 12 years of silence, she felt a great peace settle on her. God knows best, she thought.
"Your biological mother was only 17 when you were born. She probably didn't have very much hope or money. Maybe she had pressure from a boyfriend, or someone else, so she decided-"
"I was aborted, right?" Gianna said, beating her mother to the punch.
"Yes. How did you know?"
"I just knew."
Gianna didn't say anything more right away. She remained thoughtful. But when she spoke, it was with her usual perkiness. "Well, at least I have cerebral palsy for an interesting reason."
So many Questions
Before that Christmas of 1989, Gianna cried a lot over her biological mother, wanting to know why she gave her up for adoption, wondering what she looked like. But once she found out her mom tried to abort her, she never cried over her again.
She still had questions, however: Why didn't she want me? When she found out I was still alive, was she sorry she had the abortion? Does she ever think of me? What's her name? Is she pretty? But there was no point swirling those questions in her mind because the only answers Diana had were from a typed sheet from MediCal on State of California stationery.
The official correspondence referred to Gianna as "an infant born 10 weeks premature, the product of an attempted saline abortion." The letter also said she had needed oxygen and that she was "Transferred to Harbor General upon birth, where she remained until dishcarge 6/6/1977."
At that point, Orange County Department of Social Services placed Gianna in a series of foster homes. Doctors said she would never sit up, much less walk. But when Gianna went to live with one particular foster mother, Penny, at 17 months of age, she connected with a women whose heart was dedicated to nurturing her.
Penny, in her 50's, loved children. She was also Diana DePaul's mother. Over the months as Diana DePaul's mother. Over the months as Diana visited her mother, she fell in love with Gianna and soon decided to adopt her.
I'll always remember the day I adopted you." Diana later told her daughter. "It was wonderful. You were 4 - this tiny thing with such bright eyes and a big smile, and those big plastic leg braces. You had worked so hard with Grammy."
Gianna had wanted to surprise her new mom by being able to walk without her walker before the adoption. On July 24, 1981, Gianna watched Diana's car pull up, and almost before Diana's was out of the car, Gianna ran stiffly down the driveway and into her new mother's arms-all by herself.
That was 13 years ago.
Over the years there have been tough times, including several surgeries to relieve the stiffness in Gianna's legs. Then there were lonely times in junior high school when friends shunned Gianna. Diana went in to talk to the school principal with her daughter. His solution of providing "volunteer friends" offended Gianna.
That evening, Gianna's anger gave way to tears. She sobbed into her mother's lap for a long time. At last she raised her flushed, wet face and asked, "When is God going to heal me, Mom?" Diana stroked her hair. "Gianna," she said, "it might not be God's will to ever heal you, but He is going to use you in a very special way."
'I Forgive Her'
Not long after Gianna learned she had been aborted, a friend of Diana's called and asked if Gianna could speak at a Mother's Day banquet at Penny's church about what it was like being aborted. Gianna's answer was immediate" "Sure-if I can sing!"
Singing had been her passion since she was 3 years old.
On the night of the banquet, Gianna limped to the front of the room. With a grin on her face, she took the microphone in hand, greeted the group easily and then began to sing. her sweet, soprano voice was a young, higher version of Amy Grant's, but there was a presence about her, a personality all her own.
Afterward, with he microphone cradled in her hands, Gianna began her little talk. "I'm adopted," she began. "My biological mother was 17 when I was born. At seven months pregnant, she chose to have a saline abortion. But by the grace of God, I survived." Gianna smiled.
"I forgive her totally for what she did. She was young, and she probably had no hope. She didn't know what she was doing. As a result of the abortion however, I have cerebral palsy-but that's okay, because I have God to keep me going every day. It's not always easy, but He is always there. He's there for you, too."
She finished by singing Michael W. Smith's "Friends," dedicating it to all the babies who die from abortion every day. "They are my friends," Gianna said, "and I'm going to see them in Heaven some day."
As Gianna finished and lowered her eyes, the room was silent. Several women wiped away tears. The the audience burst into sustained applause. People surged forward to hug her and shake her hand, saying, "I'm glad you survived!"
As the crowd thinned out, Gianna turned to leave. A woman who had been standing at the fringes of the crowd stepped up. "I had an abortion," she admitted in a low voice, searching Gianna's face. "Nobody knows. I've confessed it to God, but I still feel guilty." "You didn't know what you were doing," Gianna told her.
The woman reached out and stroked Gianna's cheek. "I have to touch you," she said, sighing deeply. "I have longed to hold my baby and tell her I am sorry. Somehow, touching you, hearing you say you forgive your mother, makes me feel"-she choked back a sob-"maybe she would forgive me!"
"She would." said Gianna earnestly. "I know she would."
The woman's tears were running freely now. "I've had this bottled up for so many years." She wrapped her arms tightly around Gianna. "Thank you!"
Then as the woman held Gianna at arm's length and gazed at her again, Gianna said with conviction "you will see her in heaven".
The woman took a deep, ragged breath, letting go of years of pain. "You have helped me so much! God bless your ministry." She gave Gianna's hand one quick squeeze then walked away.
That was the first of many times that Gianna would share her unique and compelling story.
Half a continent away in Indiana, a 31 year old woman sat in front of a T.V. She and her husband had recently moved from California to be close to his dying mother.
On this beautiful fall day, she was bored. There wasn't much on. Soaps. Reruns. Talk shows. Tina paused at one talk show. It can't be . On the screen was a young teen ager, a perky looking little thing, with wavy, blonde hair cascading from a bow on top of her head. Tina caught only a few words before her brother switched to another channel.
"Turn it back!" Tina cried. " That's my daughter"
"Oh, I'm sure, " he said sarcastically.
" She is, I know she is"
Maurey Povich, the host, had just said something to Gianna, and the teenager was giggling.
"She's got my face, my eyes! She's the same age, and I named her Gianna [spelled with one n and pronounced Guy-ana, though now its Gee-ANA], and she says she was aborted."
Her brother shrugged, still not convinced.
Tina couldn't absorb what they were saying. Memories were flooding back. The precious, squalling baby cupped in her hands. The guilt. And anger that people who knew better had told her that abortion wasn't wrong.
Povich continured his questions.
"When did you find out the real story about the abortion attempt?"
"On Christmas Day, when I was 12," Gianna replied. In Indiana. Tina's heart was racing. Gianna, she thought, I want to tell how it was, how sorry I am! If I contact the station, could I talk to you? Would you want to hear from me? Or would I just hurt you more than I already have? Povich had turned to Diana Depaul and asked, "What is the connection between the abortion and cerebral palsy?"
"Gianna was deprived of oxygen in the womb when she gulped the saline solution," said Diana "Why don't you stand up for a second!" Povich ordered Gianna. "This is somebody who couldn't walk or crawl." The crowds cheered and applauded as Povich gave Gianna a hug. The shock of seeing her daughter was intense, almost unbearable, but Tina couldn't take her eyes away.
After a commercial break, the audience asked several questions. One woman's inquiry made Tina suspend her breath. "Would you ever like to meet your real mom?" Tina's eyes were riveted on Gianna.
"I don't feel I would at this point," replied Gianna, "because I have my family. My mom's sitting right here. It's not that I am mad at my biological mother at all. I forgive her totally for what she did." Tina didn't want to hear anything more. She turned off the set and tried to turn off the disappointment flooding her. She said no, Tina thought. She said she doesn't want to meet me. I better stay away.
As Gianna and Diana traveled and spoke at pro-life gatherings around the country, their pro-choice opponents repeatedly suggested that they could not prove their story. Without the biological mother, Diana's only proof was a small, inconclusive document from the State of California.
Gianna's biological mother was the key to the truth-if she would tell the truth. Diana had to find her. With Gianna's permission and the help of a private investigator, Diana found Tina in March 1992-married and living again in Southern California.
Tina spoke to a reporter and told her that she had seen Gianna on "The Maury Povich Show," and that she had heard her say she wasn't sure she wanted to meet her mother. Tina said she loved Gianna and prayed for her, but she didn't want to enter her life if Gianna wasn't ready. The reporter relayed this to Gianna, who said candidly, "I just can't sit down with her face to face. I think it would be too much."
When the reported called Tina to relay the message, Tina said that something had come up and they were moving again. The reporter asked her to call her when she got settled.
Whether Tina contacted them again or not, there was one thing they all agreed on: As far as meeting her birth mother, Gianna would call the shots. Nobody wanted to hurt this young woman who nearly lost her life in an abortion clinic.
Testimony of abortion survivor Gianna Jessen before the Constitution Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee on April 22, 1996.
My name is Gianna Jessen. I am 19 years of age. I am originally from California, but now reside in Franklin, Tennessee. I am adopted. I have cerebral palsy. My biological mother was 17 years old and seven and one-half months pregnant when she made the decision to have a saline abortion. I am the person she aborted. I lived instead of died.
Fortunately for me the abortionist was not in the clinic when I arrived alive, instead of dead, at 6:00 a.m. on the morning of April 6, 1977. I was early, my death was not expected to be seen until about 9 a.m., when he would probably be arriving for his office hours. I am sure I would not be here today if the abortionist would have been in the clinic as his job is to take life, not sustain it. Some have said I am a "botched abortion", a result of a job not well done.
There were many witnesses to my entry into this world. My biological mother and other young girls in the clinic, who also awaited the death of their babies, were the first to greet me. I am told this was a hysterical moment. Next was a staff nurse who apparently called emergency medical services and had me transferred to a hospital.
I remained in the hospital for almost three months. There was not much hope for me in the beginning. I weighed only two pounds. Today, babies smaller than I was have survived.
A doctor once said I had a great will to live and that I fought for my life. I eventually was able to leave the hospital and be placed in foster care. I was diagnosed with cerebral palsy as a result of the abortion.
My foster mother was told that it was doubtful that I would ever crawl or walk. I could not sit up independently. Through the prayers and dedication of my foster mother, and later many other people, I eventually learned to sit up, crawl, then stand. I walked with leg braces and a walker shortly before I turned age four. I was legally adopted by my foster mother's daughter, Diana De Paul, a few months after I began to walk. The Department of Social Services would not release me any earlier for adoption.
I have continued in physical therapy for my disability, and after a total of four surgeries, I can now walk without assistance. It is not always easy. Sometimes I fall, but I have learned how to fall gracefully after falling 19 years.
I am happy to be alive. I almost died. Every day I thank God for life. I do not consider myself a by-product of conception, a clump of tissue, or any other of the titles given to a child in the womb. I do not consider any person conceived to be any of those things.
I have met other survivors of abortion. They are all thankful for life. Only a few months ago I met another saline abortion survivor. Her name is Sarah. She is two years old. Sarah also has cerebral palsy, but her diagnosis is not good. She is blind and has severe seizures. The abortionist, besides injecting the mother with saline, also injects the baby victims. Sarah was injected in the head. I saw the place on her head where this was done.
When I speak, I speak not only for myself, but for the other survivors, like Sarah, and also for those who cannot yet speak ...Today, a baby is a baby when convenient. It is tissue or otherwise when the time is not right. A baby is a baby when miscarriage takes place at two, three, four months. A baby is called a tissue or clumps of cells when an abortion takes place at two, three, four months. Why is that? I see no difference. What are you seeing? Many close there eyes...
The best thing I can show you to defend life is my life. It has been a great gift. Killing is not the answer to any question or situation. Show me how it is the answer.T
here is a quote which is etched into the high ceilings of one of our state's capitol buildings. The quote says, "Whatever is morally wrong, is not politically correct." Abortion is morally wrong. Our country is shedding the blood of the innocent. America is killing its future.
All life is valuable. All life is a gift from our Creator. We must receive and cherish the gifts we are given. We must honor the right to life.
The Hand of Hope: Samuel Armas
The photo above was taken by Michael Clancy. It is protected by U.S. Copyright Law.
Visit Michael's website. Used with permission.
From the Web:
A picture began circulating in November (2000). It should be "The Picture of the Year," or perhaps, “Picture of the Decade.” It won't be. In fact, unless you obtained a copy of the paper, you probably never will see it. The picture is that of a 21-week-old unborn baby named Samuel Alexander Armas, who is being operated on by a surgeon named Joseph Bruner.
The baby was diagnosed with spina bifida and would not survive if removed from his mother's womb. Little Samuel's mother, Julie Armas, is an obstetrics nurse in Atlanta. She knew of Dr. Bruner's remarkable surgical procedure. Practicing at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, he performs these special operations while the baby is still in the womb. During the procedure, the doctor removes the uterus via C-section and makes a small incision to operate on the baby.
During the surgery on little Samuel, the little guy reached his tiny, but fully developed, hand through the incision and firmly grasped the surgeon's finger. The photograph captures this amazing event with perfect clarity. The editors titled the picture, "Hand of Hope." The text explaining the picture begins, "The tiny hand of 21-week-old fetus Samuel Alexander Armas emerges from the mother's uterus to grasp the finger of Dr. Joseph Bruner as if thanking the doctor for the gift of life.
"Little Samuel's mother said they "wept for days" when they saw the picture. She said, "The photo reminds us my pregnancy isn't about disability or an illness, it's about a little person."
The LORD called me before my birth;
from within the womb
he called me by name.
How many people have heard of Samuel Armas?
Telling his story would be another example of how to impress people with the truth that the unborn are just as human as we are. Samuel was operated on at 21-weeks gestation in utero for a spinal cord defect. Pictures of his hand grasping the surgeons are among the most powerful and unforgettable in recent years. He was born on Thursday, Dec. 2, 1999 weighing 5 lbs 11 oz. Samuel’s mom, Julie later wrote,
“He was born at 36 weeks but came into the world screaming his head off! He did not have to spend any time in a neonatal unit and came home with us on Monday, Dec. 6.”