Jennifer Milbourn struggled for years with the knowledge that her birth mother had attempted to abort her. She thought of herself as unwanted, a “freak,” and buried her pain for years.
Now, Milbourn speaks out publicly about her past, not only to raise awareness about the injustice of abortion but also to help other abortion survivors heal and understand their worth.
Speaking with Live Action News, Milbourn said she always knew growing up that her aunt had adopted her, but she did not learn the full story until she was 19.
While home from college, she said she asked her adopted mother to tell her something she did not know about herself. Milbourn was shocked by the answer.
In the late 1970s, she learned that her birth mother had gone to her sister to explain that she was pregnant and wanted an abortion. The sister tried to talk her out of it and offered to adopt the baby, but she refused, according to the report.
At an Illinois abortion facility, her birth mother had an abortion when she was about four months pregnant with her, the report continues.
“It was a vacuum aspiration procedure, which is the vacuum tube that will suck the baby out,” Milbourn told Live Action. “My head was gestationally larger than the abortionist was expecting, which more than likely meant my birth mom had told them that she wasn’t as far along as she was.
“Basically, they started the procedure, [but] my head was too big to go into the tube. They stopped the procedure and said, ‘More than likely you’ll miscarry because there’s been a hole in the embryonic sac. Go home and you’ll just miscarry.’ But lo and behold, everything was fine,” she continued.
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Hearing the story for the first time as a young adult, Milbourn said she immediately began to cry. For years, she said she struggled in silence, thinking of herself as an unwanted “freak” who “someone didn’t want badly enough to kill me.”
“It’s miraculous, I survived this abortion attempt but then I’m also wrestling with my birth mom wanting to have the abortion in the first place,” she told Live Action.
It took years before she even opened up to her husband. Eventually, Milbourn said someone told her about Melissa Ohden, another abortion survivor and founder of the Abortion Survivors Network. Only then did she realize that she was not the only child who had survived an abortion attempt on her life.
Connecting with other survivors helped Milbourn to work through her struggles. She told Live Action News that she forgives her birth mother, and she wants to help other survivors connect and heal just like she did.
The organization has connected with 650 abortion survivors to-date, but there likely are hundreds more.
The data on abortion survivors is very limited. Only 10 states keep track of abortion survivors, and they all have different definitions and standards about what does and does not count as a reportable survival, according to the Abortion Survivors Network.
LifeNews recently examined abortion data from seven states between 2020 and 2022 and found reports of 34 babies who were born alive in botched abortions. The numbers almost certainly are much higher; most states do not keep track of abortion survivors.
Between 2016 and 2018, three states reported 40 babies were born alive after botched abortions. According to the state health data, 11 babies were born alive in Minnesota, 10 in Arizona and 19 in Florida. Texas reported six babies were born alive in botched abortions in 2019. In Michigan, state health reports from 2008 through 2013 indicate that 11 babies were born alive after abortions.
Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control, as well as the personal testimonies of nurses and abortion survivors themselves, also provide evidence that babies survive abortions. According to the CDC, at least 143 babies were born alive after botched abortions between 2003 and 2014 in the U.S.
For the past several years, Republicans in Congress have been trying to pass the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, which would increase protections for babies who survive abortions. The bill would require that the same basic medical care be provided to babies who survive abortions as would be provided to any other baby born at the same gestational age. It also would impose penalties on medical workers who neglect to provide that care. However, Democrat leaders have blocked the legislation dozens of times.
Research by Tessa Longbons of Charlotte Lozier Institute found that protections for babies who survive abortions are inconsistent across the United States, with fewer than half of states maintaining sufficient protections.
Reports from other countries prove that babies survive abortions, too, and legal protections for them are needed. In Canada, the Canadian Institute of Health Information recorded 766 late-term, live-birth abortions over a five-year period in 2018. And in Australia, the country’s health minister admitted that 27 babies survived abortions in the state of Western Australia between 1999 and 2016. A report out of Ireland also suggests babies are surviving abortions and being left to die there.
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