HOMEPAGE www.danieljvance.com

By Daniel J. Vance

This is perhaps the most amazing, disability-related story I've ever encountered.

Back in 1977, Gianna (pronounce Gee-onna) Jessen survived an abortion. She didn't survive as the mother; she was the aborted baby. And today Jessen has cerebral palsy because of the abortion attempt.

The United Cerebral Palsy website claims an estimated 764,000 Americans have a degree of cerebral palsy, which is usually caused by brain damage occurring before, during or shortly after birth. It affects the brain's ability to control muscle movement and usually doesn't affect intelligence.

“I found out (about being aborted) when I was 12 from my adopted mother,” Jessen said in a telephone interview from her home in Nashville, Tenn. “In 1977, my biological parents were both 17 and my biological mother was seven and a half months pregnant.”

Jessen's mother had a saline abortion, in which a salt solution was injected directly into the womb. In this case, the baby (Gianna) emerged before the doctor would arrive for duty. An alert nurse, seeing a live child, immediately called for an ambulance and Jessen was taken to a nearby Los Angeles hospital. Ironically, the late-arriving doctor had to sign Jessen's birth certificate, which reads, “Born during saline abortion.”

Had the doctor been on duty, she more than likely would have been strangled to death, Jessen said. She claimed this was perfectly legal until 2002 when President Bush signed the “Born-Alive Infants Protection Act.”

“Weighing two pounds, I was taken to a hospital incubator wing,” she said. “After several months there, doctors didn't expect me to live. At 17 months, I was placed in foster care. I soon was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, which was directly caused by a lack of oxygen to my brain while I was being aborted.”

Doctors told her foster mother, Penny, that Gianna would never progress beyond being a “vegetable.” Penny responded by personally providing physical therapy three times daily. Eventually, at age 3, Jessen began walking using a walker and braces, and ultimately was adopted by Penny's daughter.

Today, amazingly, Jessen not only gets around without braces, but enjoys running in marathons, including the recent London Marathon. She walks with a slight limp. And she is a public speaker and musician.

She credits God for her survival and recovery. One day, she would like to meet the nurse that saved her life.

For more, see danieljvance.com or www.ucp.org. [This column made possible by a grant from Blue Valley Sod, www.bluevalleysod.com]