Melissa's New Book



Statement in Response to GOP Debate: Abortion Survivor “Penny”


Abortion Survivors Network (ASN) is a nonprofit with more than two decades of experience and stands as a beacon of support and connection for abortion survivors and their families across the globe. Our uniqueness lies in being the sole organization dedicated to serving survivors at any age, along with their mothers who may still be pregnant or parenting, families, and friends of those who have survived an abortion. We are dedicated to creating awareness around the survival of babies after abortion attempts and serving the survivors of abortions and their families through healing, hope, and empowerment.


Our mission is to end the generational trauma of abortion by saving survivors at the first chance of intervention by serving mothers and supporting families. We challenge misconceptions, share compelling data, and amplify personal stories that refute the notion that “abortions don’t fail” and “there’s no such thing as an abortion survivor.” By shedding light on this important topic, we aim to counter the prevailing pro-choice narrative and empower the voices of abortion survivors, their mothers, and their families.


“Life is at the core of our Democracy,” said Melissa Ohden, President and CEO of Abortion Survivors Network, “The GOP debate highlighted that the issue of life is just as important today as it was at our nation’s founding. We challenge the candidates to envision a society in which women are supported no matter the circumstance of their pregnancy, and the generational trauma of abortion ends. The truth is that abortions fail, abortions can be stopped and chemical abortions can be reversed. Our nation will only heal when we address the trauma abortion causes abortion survivors, their mothers, and their families.

”Miriam “Penny” Hopper’s Remarkable Journey into Life

Penny survived two abortion attempts in 1955 when her mother faced challenges to her pregnancy. The first home abortion attempt failed, and Penny was delivered alive after a second medical abortion at the Wauchula Infirmary. Medical staff were instructed to discard her body, and if she was born alive to let her die. Penny was treated at a local hospital until March 1956, she suffered limited physical complications despite surviving two abortion attempts and birth at 23 weeks.

Below is a brief summary of Miriam’s story, it is not meant to portray her history.

In November 1955, my mother arrived at the Wauchula Infirmary 23 weeks pregnant, her health deteriorating. The doctor listened for my heartbeat but was unable to find one and insisted on an abortion to end the pregnancy. Before departing, the doctor painted a bleak future should I survive – predicting blindness and intellectual disabilities, and that I would be a burden to my family.

I was born weighing less than two pounds and was wrapped in a hand towel and placed in a bedpan. Despite being alive, I was discarded onto the clinic’s back porch. The next day, my grandmother and my aunt found me, still on the back porch. They unwrapped me from the towel – remarkably, I was still alive.

My grandmother’s exclamation, “She’s Alive!” shifted the narrative of my existence. Once an unwanted burden, I became a patient worthy of care. Escorted by the nurse and police, we were taken to Morrell Hospital in Lakeland, Florida, to get more care even though my survival remained uncertain. A charitable organization provided the hospital with an incubator, which became my sanctuary for months. I was so small and fragile; that I was fed with an eyedropper.

At the hospital, I struggled with pneumonia, bronchitis, and a paralyzed vocal cord and I was affectionately dubbed “Penny” by the nurses due to my reddened hair from the incubator’s oxygen.

I left the hospital on March 12, 1956 – which was my initial due date. It also marked the first time my mother held me. While some physical challenges lingered, answers about my unconventional birth remained elusive.

In 2010, I confronted my father about the circumstances of my birth. He explained they couldn’t support another child at that time, his fears of an ever-growing family, and revealed the painful truth about life. Relatives have shared more about my beginning, revealing my mother’s attempt to induce a miscarriage. Before his passing in 2011, my father expressed gratitude for my presence and support in his life, erasing doubts of me being a burden.

Despite the adversity, my parents’ love prevailed. Doctors’ grim predictions were denied. I have gratitude for everyone who touched my life and gave me hope. My life blossomed fully, with a brother, a devoted husband, two children, and seven grandchildren.

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