Gianna Jessen signs programs after her presentation at the SLV Women’s Resource Center fund-raiser in Alamosa on April 11.
Photo by Ruth Heide
ALAMOSA — International speaker Gianna Jessen spoke to a capacity crowd of 350 for the SLV Women’s Resource Center fund-raiser in Alamosa less than a week after a birthday she logistically should never have had.
On April 6, 1977, Gianna’s mother attempted to abort her.
Thirty-six years later Gianna shares a story few others can. She is an abortion survivor whose pre-birth hours in a saline solution intended to end her life resulted in a lifelong struggle with cerebral palsy — and a lifelong desire to speak out for the unborn.
Helping the SLV Women’s Resource Center raise money for its varied services in the Valley, Gianna shared her personal story and convictions in Alamosa on April 11. Her presentation was personal, spiritual, political, humorous and bluntly honest.
“What can they do to me?” she asked.
Not much, since the most brutal attempt on her life failed at birth.
Gianna’s mother, who was 17 at the time, was 7 1/2 months pregnant. She went to a Planned Parenthood in California and then an abortion clinic where she underwent a saline abortion for 18 hours. The process involved injecting a salt solution intended to suffocate the unborn child so the mother would deliver a dead baby.
Only this time, on April 6, 1977, the 2-pound baby was not born dead. She was not even burned.
“The only reason I am here is because the abortionist was not on duty yet because it was 6 o’clock in the morning,” Gianna said. “A nurse had time to ship me out via ambulance.”
(Gianna said she loves the portrayal of the nurse played by actress Jasmine Guy in the film “October Baby,” inspired by her life but a much happier version of it.)
If the doctor had been there, he probably would have ended Gianna’s life or left her to die, she added.
She said she posts on her Facebook every April 6 at 6 a.m., “I lived by the power of Jesus Christ who is my life.”
She said she neither hates the doctor nor her mother, although the failed abortion resulted in cerebral palsy because of the lack of oxygen to her brain during that time.
Regarding her mother, she said, “She’s a very, very broken woman. She to this day has very little respect for my life.”
When her biological mother showed up at an event where Gianna had spoken, she introduced herself and then told Gianna she was an embarrassment to the family.
“I said, ‘ma’am I forgive you. I am a Christian’. She said, ‘I don’t want your forgiveness’.”
Gianna repeated her forgiveness, and her mother repeated that she did not want it.
Finally Gianna told her mother she forgave her but would not allow her to speak to her hatefully, and she got up and walked away.
Gianna said she is not defined by where she came from, and she encouraged those listening to her, “you don’t have to be defined by all that has happened to you.”
Rescued from an abortion clinic’s table, 2-pound Gianna remained in a hospital incubator for several months before being placed in a foster home where “they didn’t like me,” and shut her in a room for long periods of time.
“I don’t even have baby pictures. The youngest I have is 17 months, and I only have one. I wish I had more pictures, but God probably took some.”
Her next foster home was a Godsend, however. An older woman named Penny, who is still alive at age 90, not only took Gianna in at 17 months and loved her but also took the time necessary every day to help her hold her head up, crawl and walk when doctors said she would never do any of those actions.
Penny’s daughter adopted Gianna, and although life was not forever smooth afterwards, Gianna does not dwell on the difficulties of that life.
For example, she her adoptive father only twice, at age 13 and 21. She spoke to him on the phone a few years ago when she led him to Christ. He died two days later.
She then realized, “he didn’t adopt me to be my dad but so I could tell him about my Father.”
Gianna sees her incredible birth and her cerebral palsy as gifts that permit her to address subjects like abortion and to be heard.
“They didn’t know who they were trying to kill,” she said.
Gianna said abortion is not so much about women’s rights as it is about money and if someone has enough money she can end a pregnancy at any stage. Abortion is also about deception and evil, she said, not that the women who have had abortions are evil or the men who asked them to were evil.
“I am saying the spirit behind such a thing is evil. It makes no sense. There is no justification whatsoever to end the life of the most vulnerable among us.”
In considering the 50 million children in America who have been aborted, Gianna said she believes she was put on this earth to lift up their cries as no one else could.
“He made me a lady in the middle of a so called women’s issue,” she added. “God is a master strategist.”
In being disabled, Gianna believes God also placed her in a unique position to be heard.
“I get away with saying all this truth, and they can’t stop me, and they would if I wasn’t disabled, not that they haven’t tried.”
For example, when she went to run a marathon in London, the organizers told her they didn’t want her to talk to news media about her birth story.
“Of course I ended up being called by Sky News which goes all over the world, and the Lord opened the door to just proclaim Jesus and the fact I survived an abortion.”
The London marathon was not her first. She had previously run a 26-mile marathon in Nashville, where she lives.
“It took me seven and a half hours, and everybody had eaten the donuts,” she said. “All of the emergency crews, the ambulance, fire truck, they were all so excited that this girl was trying with all her might to not quit until the finish line, they were flashing their lights going down the road.”
Although not an athlete, and having learned to “fall excellently,” Gianna is grateful she has never broken a bone, and she counts on God to keep it that way. She underwent spinal surgery at age 10 and has balance issues, but she does not see herself as a victim.
“Do I want the government to take care of me? No. Because I have Jesus and I want freedom.”
She said although those who predicted a death panel under the new health care framework were vilified, she believes the government will reach a point of deciding who deserves care and who costs too much to receive it.
Gianna emphasized the value of each person from birth to death because of the value God places on each individual.
“Things that matter to you matter to Him.”
Women's Resource Center offers services
ALAMOSA — The San Luis Valley Women’s Resource Center is located at 3211 Main, Suite E., Alamosa. Call 589-6698 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Also see www.slvwrc.org
The center provides support, education and counsel to individuals facing decisions about sexuality, relationship and pregnancy issues. It has serviced the San Luis Valley area since 1991. All its services are free and confidential. The center is donation supported.
• Pregnancy tests
• STD tests for chlamydia and gonorrhea
• Earn While You Learn classes
• Maternity clothing
• Abortion recovery
• Sexual integrity education
• Referrals for community and medical services