Abortion Survivor Works for Life and Family Restoration

This excellent guest post is from Sandra Alcaide, Regent Law 2L and Family Law student:

Gianna Jessen survived a failed saline abortion attempt. On April 6, 1977, at the age of 17, Gianna's birth mother attempted to have an abortion at a Planned Parenthood clinic. She was 17 years old and 7 ½ months pregnant.[1] After being burned alive in the womb for 18 hours, Gianna was delivered alive. The abortionist was not in the room when Gianna was delivered, and thus was unable to complete the abortion. Gianna weighed two pounds, and remained in the hospital for three months. Ironically, the abortionist had to sign Gianna Jessen's birth certificate, noting in her medical records that she was born during a saline abortion.[2]


Gianna was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when she was 17 months old. The doctors said she would never be able to lift her head – but she did. They said she would never be able to sit up straight – yet she ran her first marathon (26.2 miles, no easy feat) in 2005 in 7 ½ hours.[3]


If you believe life begins at conception, then you might consider all abortions to be brutal. However, saline abortions, like the one Gianna survived, are particularly brutal to the unborn child and dangerous to the mother. Such abortions can only be performed after 16 weeks of abortion, when enough fluid has accumulated in the amniotic fluid sac surrounding the baby. This is after the heartbeat has been detected, after the limbs have begun to grow, after the baby's head can turn and the baby can make facial expressions, after finger prints have begun to form and the baby can hear, after brain waves are detectable, after teeth have taken shape and fingernails have begun to form, after adult taste buds develop, after all organs are intact, and after the baby has passed the threshold of being able to feel pain.[4] A needle is inserted into the mother's abdomen, and amniotic fluid is replaced with a solution of concentrated salt - poison. The baby swallows the poison. The chemical solution causes burning and deterioration of the baby's skin. The baby usually dies within an hour, and the mother delivers a dead, shriveled up baby. "About 97% of mothers deliver their dead babies within 72 hours."[5]


Complications for the mother may include severe dehydration, damage to the uterus, seizures, coma, and death.[6] One can imagine the potential complications that can arise if a hypertonic saline solution is inadvertently inserted into the mother's bladder.


In Gonzalez v. Carhart, 550 U.S. 124 (2007), the Supreme Court upheld the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003, a federal statute regulation abortion procedures and banning partial birth abortions. Interestingly, the Court asserted that "the government undoubtedly 'has an interest in protecting the integrity and ethics of the medical profession.'"[7] That is quite an admirable interest. While the Court correctly upheld the ban on a "brutal and inhumane procedure" that would "further coarsen society to the humanity of not only newborns, but all vulnerable and innocent human life," perhaps Congress and the Court should continue to execute proper laws by banning all abortion methods that have a "disturbing similarity to the killing of a newborn infant."[8] After all, despite the attempt to end Gianna Jessen's life with a saline abortion, she was born alive.


Miss Jensen is now an advocate for the pro-life movement. As a proponent of the sanctity of life, she asks the following question: "If abortion is about women's rights, then where were mine? There was no radical feminist screaming for my rights on that day."[9]


 For a short interview with Gianna Jessen – and a brief look into politics, see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sBWVSah6N5w.  For access to Gianna Jessen, see: http://www.giannajessen.com/.  To learn more about the law's effects on life and families get the free download of "Roe's Affects on Family Law" at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2441274.


[1] Elizabeth Day, Gianna Jessen was aborted at 7½ months. She survived. Astonishingly, she has forgiven her mother for trying to kill her., The Telegraph, Dec. 4, 2005,


[2] Gianna Jessen Abortion Survivor in Australia Part 1, YouTube (Sept. 10, 2008) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kPF1FhCMPuQ.

[3] Day, supra note 1.

[4] When Does a Baby Have A Heartbeat?, New Health Guide, http://www.newhealthguide.org/When-Does-A-Baby-Have-A-Heartbeat.html (last visited Oct. 19, 2014).

[5] Abortion Techniques: Instillation Methods, National Right to Life, http://www.nrlc.org/archive/abortion/ASMF/asmf9.html (last visited Oct. 19, 2014).

[6] Saline Abortions are cruel and dangerous, Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, http://www.mccl.org/saline-abortion-cruel-and-dangerous.html (last visited Oct. 19, 2014).

[7] Gonzales v. Carhart, 550 U.S. 124, 128 (2007) (quoting Washington v. Glucksberg, 521 U.S. 702, 731 (1997)).

[8] Id. at 157–58. For an explanation of the legal Dilation and Evacuation procedure, see Dr. Tony Levatino, M.D., A Medical Doctor describes the Dilation and Evacuation Procedure, Priests for Life, http://www.priestsforlife.org/resources/medical/delevatino.htm (explaining that during the blind procedure of Dilation and Evacuation, an unborn child is torn apart, limb by limb, and the skull is crushed while within the womb).

[9] Day, supra note 1.


A Father for all Seasons

This morning James Robert Donnelly (1931-2014) was taken by the hand of the Lord into Paradise. 


Born into a poor household abandoned by his father, his first memories were of a kind family court judge ordering child support for him and his brother.  Raised by a loving mother, grandmother, and great uncle, he grew to understand personal responsibility even in the midst of poverty.  He married a kind and friendly young woman from a good family, and 58 years, three children, seven grandchildren and one (forthcoming) great grandchild later, he is having an impact even in his passing into eternity on all of us as individuals.  He was my wonderful father.

He was a father for all seasons, for all times, for all circumstances.  Dad was there for every good grade, every bad grade, every car wreck, every speeding ticket, every educational decision, every accomplishment, every failure, every financial decision, every mistake to be fixed, every celebration, always inspiring with his "I think you can do anything" speech.  He loved fabulous vacations, took us to church, took joy in sports, and taught us to do the same.  He loved life, and he loved our mother.  He loved us.

Dad was a picture of God's perfect love and grace at every turn. Wherever any of us were in the wide world we knew our father was always there supporting us, proud of us, loving us.  Though he grew up without the benefit of a father, he was an incredibly intuitive and loving father, thoughtful, gracious, kind, firm, and he reflected for us here on earth a  picture of the heavenly Father, for our welfare, and to lead us to Christ.

Indeed, "Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will you give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, now how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" Luke 11:11-13.  The Lord Almighty is the father to the fatherless, a defender of widows (Ps. 68:5).  He was father to my father, who is now with his Heavenly Father, God in His holy dwelling.

While all of our family are deeply saddened at this great loss to us for now, we are also rejoicing that our beloved father is now in the presence of the Lord and does not have to suffer the pain and agony of a failing physical heart.  He truly had a strong and loving heart, and he will never leave our memory.  Our father for all seasons, now with the Heavenly Father in glory.

Fathers change the world.  My father challenged me to do the same.  May the Heavenly Father be our example always - our father for all seasons.


Is Same-sex Parenting Better for Kids?

Children are a large piece of the puzzle in the debate over marriage and its expansion in the United States.  What is best for children?  The law requires for any decision about children to focus on their best interests (and you can read more about that at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1957143. The question many are asking seems to be how do parents affect children. 

Should we rethink Mom and Dad?  I've written an article on that subject entitled just that, "Rethinking Mom and Dad," available for free download at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2462112.  Dr. Mark Regnerus at U. Texas recently wrote an article called Is Same-sex Parenting Better for Kids? which is posted at http://blog.speakupmovement.org/church/churches-and-politics/is-same-sex-parenting-better-for-kids/.  These are important questions for our time, particularly for a culture struggling with family strength.

The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission is sponsoring an important conference on ministry in a post-marriage culture.

Find out more about that conference at the ERLC National Conference: "The Gospel, Homosexuality, and the Future of Marriage."  Designed to equip Christians to apply the gospel on these issues with convictional kindness in their communities, their families and their churches, this event will be held at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville, TN on October 27-29, 2014.  Events like these go a long way in restoring families.


State Marriage Laws Effectively Held Unconstitutional By Cert Denial

The Supreme Court of the United States' recent denial of review on state marriage laws that had been overturned by federal courts has left those state laws now unconstitutional, as dictated by the lower federal courts' rulings which will now control the laws of those states.  States finding themselves in this situation include:

California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming, and the District of Columbia.

Previously, marriage was defined in these states, by the citizens of these states, as the legal relationship between a man and a woman.  With this ruling, marriage must now be expanded to include same-sex couples.  To learn more about what this means for those states see http://www.wilx.com/news/headlines/How-Same-Sex-Marriage-Is-Unfolding-In-11-States-278271131.html. This denial of any clear ruling is an inhibitor of family strength for those state jurisdictions, as marriage law stability lends to a stronger state, as set out at this article on state authority for domestic relations regulation at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2427462.  

Those states that are not mentioned above remain strong in their stability of marriage as between one man and one woman - the foundation of family restoration.