Thirty-five years ago, Gianna Jessen was aborted and lived to tell about it. Her story is very powerful, and even inspired the movie October Baby- though when first approached about the movie by producers Andrew and Jon Erwin, she couldn’t get away fast enough.
“I wanted nothing to do with this. I ran from these men,” she said. “It’s hard to be defined by this one thing.” Then Gianna watched the movie and not only did she laugh and cry throughout the film, but by the time the credits rolled, she had healed.
Over the past 35+ years, Gianna has made an amazing physical recovery. She was not expected to be able to walk (today she walks with a modest limp), but by the age of 3, she was able to walk with the help of leg braces and a walker and by age 28, – April 30, 2005 – Gianna completed her first marathon (Boston) then ran another one (London) the following April.
“For me it was huge. I wasn’t even supposed to walk,” said Gianna, who finished in seven hours and 20 minutes. “Everyone else had gone home, but I didn’t care.”
Around seven years ago, just after Gianna spoke at a pro-life conference., with no warning…Gianna found herself looking into the eyes of her birth mom. For years, she had wondered if this opportunity would ever present itself. Now, Gianna was looking in the eyes of her birth mom, who had tried to abort her nearly 35 years ago. Only Gianna survived that saline attempt.
“You are an embarrassment to me,” Gianna recalls those biting words that greeted her from her birth mother.
Fighting back the tears, Gianna regained her composure just long enough to tell her: “I forgive you.”
“I don’t want you to forgive me,” her birth mom responded. “I don’t want you to talk to me.”
And just like that, the conversation was over. Gianna has not seen her birth mother since. But she doesn’t hold a grudge.
For all the obstacles Gianna’s had to overcome in her life – she was only 2 pounds when she was born with Cerebral Palsy, and doctors said she would never be able to hold up her head, crawl or walk – she could have chosen to be furious with her birth mother.
Instead, she decided to forgive, just as she has been forgiven by her Heavenly Father: “Over and over, I’ve chosen to let the Lord define me,” she said. “The Lord spoke to me, ‘You have to let it go.’ “
Gianna was taken into foster care by a woman named Penny, who has been a mother to 56 foster children. Penny’s daughter eventually adopted Gianna.
Gianna has traveled the world telling her inspirational abortion survivor story. She talks about issues such as forgiveness and identity and the Lord Almighty who saved her.
“Your biggest fear is that you’ll be forgotten,” said Gianna who has met former President George W. Bush and former Prime Minister Tony Blair. “God’s been telling me, ‘I’m going to define you,’ and ‘you are not forgotten’ and ‘you are loved.’ “
For Gianna, it’s been a long journey: “When your father and mother forsake you, God takes you up.”
Gianna identifies herself as a Christian. She boldly proclaims her belief in the love and mercy of God, as well as speaking in support of chastity. She has forgiven her birth mother for aborting her, despite that forgiveness being unwanted. Jessen gives credit to Jesus for her life, her physical recovery, and her joy. Today, she is an articulate, vocal advocate against abortion, even speaking to the US Congress and the British House of Commons.
In her advocacy, she does not express anger or bitterness, but seeks to convince people that abortion is a violation of the human rights of the aborted person through the plain example of her story and her visible present identity; she even seeks to comfort women who regret their abortions and are suffering for them. Gianna also sings, accompanied by her friend Michael Logen; she has written and recorded songs.