Obama Campaign Calls Abortion Survivor Story a “Despicable Lie”

Deal W. Hudson
September 24, 2008

Gianna Jessen survived a saline abortion 31 years ago. “I didn’t have any burns anywhere on my body – it was amazing.” The saline, however, did leave Jessen with a mild case of cerebral palsy, a slight limp, and a life-long commitment to oppose abortion.

Jessen is featured in a television ad presently running in Ohio and New Mexico, criticizing Barack Obama’s four votes against the Born Alive Infant Protection Act (BAIPA).

I asked her why she teamed with Jill Stanek’s organization, Born Alive Truth, to make the ad. “It’s very important for the American people to know how [Obama] feels about the most vulnerable among us,” she told me. (Stanek is the Chicago nurse who began lobbying to secure legal protections for babies born alive during abortions.)

Jessen has been active in the anti-abortion movement for 16 years and testified before Congress in 2002 about the BAIPA. At those hearings, she met Stanek, who approached her several months ago about doing the ad. “I was thrilled to do it. It’s as if I have been preparing many years for this moment.”

Obama responded to Jessen’s commercial with an ad of his own, dismissing it as “truly vile” and a “despicable lie.” He wasn’t the only one: Jonathan Martin, a reporter for Politicocalled Jessen “a self-proclaimed abortion survivor.” When Stanek produced the evidence of Jessen’s claims, Politico removed Martin’s slam.

Jessen lives in Nashville where she came with her adopted family 16 years ago. After she survived the abortion, she was given back to her biological mother but was shortly placed with a foster family. At the age of three, Jessen was adopted by her foster mother’s daughter.

I asked about her mother’s reaction to the failed abortion. “I don’t know how she felt at the time. But she came out of nowhere two years ago to meet me at an event. She was a broken woman and quite angry. I told her I had forgiven her for what she did, even though she didn’t want any forgiveness.”

She isn’t concerned about the way Obama describes her ad. “I don’t really care what he says. I know he voted four times against proper medical care for babies born alive. That’s the kind of man he is.” So how have people reacted to the commercial? “Some of [Obama’s] supporters will be less than kind, but generally the reaction has been very positive.”

Jessen spends her time as a speaker, writer, and real estate investor. She took up distance running several years ago because she “wanted to feel God help me in that situation, to have him carry me over the finish line,” though she’s given up marathons.

No doubt Jessen, whose visibility is growing daily, will need a similar attitude as she is buffeted by the political winds of a presidential campaign. Since her ad started airing in Ohio, polls there have indicated a shift in McCain’s direction. No wonder the Obama campaign responded so quickly.

By Deal Hudson

Deal W. Hudson was born November 20, 1949 in Denver, CO, to Emmie and Jack Hudson, both native Texans. Dr. Hudson had an older sister Ruth, and eventually, a younger sister, Elizabeth. Emmie Hudson, Ruth Hudson and Elizabeth Hudson now live in Houston, TX; Jack Hudson passed away some years ago. The late Jack Hudson was a captain for Braniff Airlines in Denver at the time of Dr. Hudson’s birth. Later the family moved to Kansas City when his father joined the Federal Aviation Agency. From Kansas City, the Hudson family moved to Minneapolis, then to Massapequa, NY, and finally to Alexandria, VA, where they first occupied a home overlooking the Potomac River adjacent to the Mount Vernon estate. After a year, the family moved to a home on Tarpon Lane a few houses up the street from the Yacht Haven boat docks. Dr. Hudson attended Mt. Vernon Elementary School from grades 4 to 6 and has a special gratitude for the teaching of Mr. Hoppe who first told him was a ‘smart lad.’ Having moved with his family to Fort Worth, TX in 1960, Dr. Hudson attended William Monnig Junior High and Arlington Heights HS. In high school, Dr. Hudson was captain of the golf team, editor of the literary magazine (Guerdon), and performed the role of Peter in the ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ during his senior year. Dr. Hudson graduated cum laude with a major in philosophy from the University of Texas-Austin in 1971 where his undergraduate advisor was Prof. John Silber. His teachers at the University of Texas included Prof. Louis Mackey and Prof. Larry Caroline. Dr. Hudson minored in both classics and English literature. Dr. Hudson lived in Atlanta from 1974-1989, where he attended Emory University, receiving a Phd from the Graduate Institute for the LIberal Arts. He also taught philosophy at Mercer University in Atlanta from 1980-89. In 1989 Dr. Hudson and his family left Atlanta when he was hired to teach philosophy at Fordham University in the Bronx. Dr. Hudson taught at Fordham, and also part-time at New York University, from 1989 to 1994. Dr. Hudson first came to Atlanta in after graduation from Princeton Theological Seminary (PTS) with an M.Div. While at PTS, Dr. Hudson managed the Baptist Student Union at Princeton University and became its first director. Dr. Hudson also was licensed at a minister in the Southern Baptist Convention at Madison Baptist Church in Madison, NJ. Dr. Hudson’s primary area of study at PTS was the history of Christian doctrine which he pursued with Dr. Karlfried Froelich. In 1984 Dr. Hudson was received in the Catholic Church by Msgr. Richard Lopez, with the special permission of Archbishop Thomas A. Donnellan, at the chapel of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Cancer Home in Atlanta. Dr. Hudson has been married twenty-five years to Theresa Carver Hudson and they have two children, Hannah Clare, 23, and Cyprian Joseph (Chip), 15, adopted from Romania when he was three years old. The Hudson family has lived in Fairfax, VA for more than fifteen years, after having lived five years in Bronxville, NY and a year in Atlanta, GA, where Theresa and Deal were married.

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