Media Release: Thursday, 28 August, 2008

The devastating human cost of late-term abortion will be brought into stark reality when a survivor of a saline abortion visits Canberra on the eve of a vote to disallow the Medicare funding of second trimester and late-term abortions.

Gianna Jessen was burned alive in the womb by saline solution for approximately 18 hours before being delivered alive in a Los Angeles County abortion clinic. She has had to overcome many problems caused by the abortion and is a strong advocate for the value of life, as well as the harm caused by abortion. 

The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) and other pro-life groups have sponsored Gianna’s visit to Australia so that she can brief Senators before their September 17 vote on Senator Guy Barnett’s disallowance motion to stop the Medicare funding of second trimester and late-term abortions (14-26 weeks).

“This disallowance motion provides an important opportunity to make a change which will address the strong community concern about Australia’s high abortion rate and the horrors of late-term abortion,” ACL Managing Director Jim Wallace said.

“While this is a sensitive and often emotive debate, there are important facts which need to be put forward and considered. In Australia, in the present day, some babies are being aborted using Medicare funding who are old enough to survive outside the womb. Like Gianna, some are even being delivered alive.

“For example the latest figures available from Victoria show that 47 of the 309 post-20 week abortions performed in 2005 resulted in the delivery of a live born child who was then left to die. Medicare also funds gruesome partial birth abortions, a practice banned in the United States.”

Mr Wallace said that many people mistakenly believe that most late-term abortions are carried out in public hospitals because the mother’s life is at risk or the baby has severe abnormalities.

“In actual fact, available figures from Victoria suggest that the majority of late-term abortions are carried out by private operators for ‘psychosocial’ reasons.” (See data from the Victorian Health Department’s 2005 survey of perinatal deaths. i)

Mr Wallace urged Senators to carefully consider Gianna’s story and the plight of unborn babies in similar situations in Australia who are being killed using taxpayers’ dollars.

ACL recently launched a ‘Medicare not Medikill’ campaign at it’s website which has seen more than 2,000 emails sent to Senators in support of the disallowance motion.

During Gianna’s September 1-3 visit to Canberra, the ACT Right to Life Association and the Australian Family Association will also be holding a public meeting in support of the motion. This will be held at the ACT Assembly Meeting Room on September 1 from 7 pm.

Gianna Jessen profile

Gianna’s biological mother was 17 years old and seven and a half months pregnant when she made the decision to have a saline abortion. After being burned alive for approximately 18 hours in the womb from the saline solution, Gianna was delivered alive at the Los Angeles County abortion clinic at 6 am on April 6, 1977.

She weighed less than a kilogram at birth (0.9 kg) and suffered from Cerebral Palsy caused by the abortion. Doctors at the time said she would never be able to hold up her head, sit up, crawl or walk. However she defied expectations, walking at the age of three with the help of leg braces and a walker, and going on to complete her first marathon on April 30, 2005.

Gianna was placed in foster care early in life, and was legally adopted by her foster mother’s daughter at the age of four. Her travels and experiences have led her all over the world. She has addressed the U.S. Congress several times, and had her testimony read before the Supreme Court in Carhart v. Gonzales.

Speaking to the Constitution Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee on April 22, 1996, Gianna said:

“The best thing I can show you to defend life is my life. It has been a great gift.  Killing is not the answer to any question or situation. Show me how it is the answer.”

Media wishing to interview Gianna Jessen during her Canberra visit from Monday September 1 to Wednesday September 3 should contact: Glynis Quinlan

i )  Consultative Council on Obstetric and Paediatric Mortality and Morbidity

See section “Perinatal Mortality Review 2005” especially page 13 at