Jennifer Milbourn 

Thank you for hearing my story, and for your attention to the bill under consideration.

Although I spent years of my life feeling terribly alone with my experience, I have found strength and healing in knowing that I’m not alone. I believe my experience and the experiences of other survivors are an important perspective for you to consider.

In the fall of 1997, at the age of 19, my adoptive mother, Pat Schaffert, disclosed to me the dark family secret. I had survived an abortion attempt by my biological mother, Karol Scott. 

I had known I was adopted since childhood, and that my Aunt Karol was my biological mother, but the news of surviving a failed abortion was completely unknown and unexpected.

When my biological mother was four months pregnant with me, she asked her sister, my adoptive mother, to drive her to the nearest abortion clinic in their area of Illinois. My adoptive mother agreed to do it, but she also begged my biological mother to instead give the baby to her and her husband to raise. My adoptive mother remained in the waiting room while Karol went in for the vacuum aspiration procedure. 

Much to Pat’s surprise, Karol came out for the procedure with the unexpected news that the baby’s head was too big for the procedure to be effective. 

While this was a circumstance Pat rejoiced in, it was tempered by the belief of the doctor that she would probably miscarry because the amniotic sac was torn. Against the odds yet again, I wasn’t miscarried. Sadly, my biological mother was an alcoholic, and she continued to drink in the hopes that it would also help her miscarry. 

I was born in September of 1978 at Carle Hospital in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. Lee & Patricia Schaffert finalized the adoption the following year. 

Because of the continued alcohol consumption by my birthmother, I’ve lived with the symptoms of FAS (Fetal Alcohol Syndrome). Despite the struggles I’ve faced, I’m grateful for my life. I’m grateful that the abortion wasn’t “effectively completed.”

When someone asks why survivors don’t share their story, please remember my experience. I didn’t know for over 19 years of my life, and even then, I spent years of my life feeling alone and ashamed of what happened in my life. How can a survivor tell their story when they’re so riddled with secrets and shame? How can they share their story when the world doesn’t want to listen?

When someone states that abortion is healthcare, please remember that I’m alive today because the abortionist didn’t complete the abortion procedure thanks to the fact that I was likely much further along in gestational age than they expected. Abortion isn’t healthcare. I’m not a disease that needed to be treated. I was a baby.

Thank you again for hearing my story and reflecting upon it as you consider this bill.

With gratitude,

Jennifer Milbourn