Late-term abortion survivor fears Article 22 will make VT abortion destination

By Melissa Ohden

As the survivor of a failed late-term, saline infusion abortion at 31 weeks of gestation (that’s nearly eight months along) it makes me physically ill that Vermont could become an abortion tourism destination for such procedures should Article 22 pass this November.

Article 22 is the proposed amendment that would enshrine in the Vermont Constitution an unrestricted right to abortion throughout all nine months of pregnancy. If the voters of Vermont don’t vote this down, the Vermont legislature would be constitutionally prohibited from passing any law that could restrict abortion, regulate abortion procedures, or protect the unborn in any way at any point in their development.

Melissa Ohden

This is not where most Vermonters, even those who consider themselves pro-choice, are when it comes to abortion policy. In two recent polls, one national and one focused on California voters, just 10 and 13 percent of people respectively were okay with unrestricted abortion up until the point of birth. Roughly 90% of humans agree, including the authors of Roe v. Wade, that some restrictions on abortion should exist at some point, at least after the unborn child is viable outside the womb. 

But this kind of common sense and compassionate regulation would be unconstitutional in Vermont should Article 22 pass, and, as such, people from around the country would flock here to get and to perform such procedures free from legal interference or punishment. This is not speculative on my part; it is by design as admitted to by supporters of Article 22. 

In a June 23 story by WCAX, “Will Vermont become abortion haven post Roe v. Wade,” the reporter asked Professor Jared Carter of Vermont Law School, Do you anticipate there will be an uptick in abortion circumvention tourism? Carter answered, “I think that’s likely here in Vermont, particularly because New Hampshire, a bordering state, recently passed restrictions on abortion after 24 weeks.”

Twenty-four weeks is six months along, and the New Hampshire laws Carter refers to do, in fact, allow for abortion after 24 weeks when a mother’s life or health is at risk or when a fatal fetal anomaly “incompatible with life” exists, meaning the infant won’t survive outside the womb. So, what the law professor is saying is, yes, people will be travelling to Vermont to get abortions in the third trimester, after the baby is viable and there are no health issues in play for either the baby or the mother because this will be perhaps the only place in America where such a radically horrific policy is allowed.

A May 5 article in VT Digger cited Lauren MacAfee, an OB-GYN with the University of Vermont Medical Center, who said she also expects to see a rise in out-of-state patients, a prediction echoed in the article by Lucy Leriche of Planned Parenthood.

More than just expecting abortion tourists to show up, the current Democratic candidate for governor is campaigning on a proposal to use Vermont taxpayer funds to help cover the cost of out-of-state abortions seekers. Late term abortion tourism is not just an unfortunate biproduct of Article 22, it’s part of the plan. 

I was a perfectly healthy developing baby in the womb of a perfectly healthy young mother. My biological mother, over seven months along in her pregnancy, was pressured by her own mother – a nurse, no less – to abort the pregnancy. The method they chose for doing so was a toxic saline injection into the amnionic fluid surrounding me. This toxic salt solution was intended to scald me to death from the outside in. After five days of floating in that toxic salt solution, the doctors induced labor. I was supposed to be born dead, but I miraculously survived. Countless others like me do not. 

Please don’t let Vermont be the place that endorses, celebrates, subsidizes, and protects late term abortion up to the point of birth. Being pro-choice does not mean you have to sign on to this. Article 22 goes way too far. Please vote No, either on the ballot you get in the mail or when you go to the polls on November 8th.

The author was a speaker at the Life Symposium sponsored by Vermont Right to Life last fall. Melissa Ohden, MSW
is Founder & CEO of the Abortion Survivors Network, Kansas City Missouri.

Categories: Commentary

5 replies »

  1. Dear Melissa,
    My heart goes out to you, and thanks for sharing your story. It brings me near tears, as I remember the infant in Ca. that wasn’t so fortunate. Many have read my story about being forced to assist with the same type of delivery, but the baby expired in my hands after being taken from the mother’s womb. Yes- your story causes me to wonder if I should have attempted to keep the baby alive but I was in shock (mentally) and I was, sadly, under the direction of the Surgeon. I could explain more about the situation, but I think I have already said enough.
    Not only should an abortion NOT be performed after the first trimester (IMO), but NO medical personnel be forced to assist with such s procedure. The latter is already a concern here in Vt., especially. with hospitals like UVMMC. I believe that information is addressed in a recent article in this publication.
    God bless you Melissa.

  2. I would like to know if there is proof of this person’s allegation; also, if it is proved true, why wasn’t the provider—if there was one—charged with a crime? If the alleged “survivor’s” mother was subject to her own mother’s doing this procedure, that is definitely a crime and was back then also. Because no reputable medical provider who wants to retain their license and ability to practice would do such a thing except as a criminal act. Because, as THIS article notes, there is no such thing as late-term abortion in medical practice.

  3. I just checked on Melissa’s story. The failed abortion that she alleges she was subjected to was in fact an illegal act, done by her grandmother and, in Melissa’s own words, “the local abortionist.” I am sorry that Melissa and her mother were so brutally mistreated, but what happened to them is NOT what abortion rights activists are calling for, and is NOT a legal procedure in any case. One wonders why, if the grandmother was so opposed to her daughter’s becoming an unwed teenage mother, she didn’t simply allow the pregnancy to continue for the rest of the term and then put the baby up for adoption, which is what pro-life people keep advocating (even though that is very hard to do and there are no guarantees that any baby will actually be adopted—ask the kids who’ve spent years in foster care)? Again, there is no such thing in medicine as a “late-term abortion.”

    • What should we call an abortion that occurs, for example, after 26 weeks of pregnancy?

      BTW: Business Library reports that “there are up to 36 couples waiting for every one baby placed for adoption.”

    • Hi Gina,

      UVM said recently that they are performing abortions past the age of viability here in VT already.

      There are some 12,000 third-trimester abortions across the country now, and according to the Guttmacher Institute, the majority are for social reasons, not medical ones.

      In the future, if the University of Vermont Medical Center decided to end the use of an ethics review panel for third-term abortions, or new and less ethical providers came to Vermont to expand abortion access — as they surely would — the state could do nothing about it.