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Abortion Survivor Credits God for the Strength to Forgive After Years of Shame

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A woman who discovered at 19 that she had survived an attempted abortion buried the revelation deep down and carried shame in her heart for years. It wasn’t until a conversation with God that she replaced shame with love and opened her heart to forgiveness.

Today, Jennifer Milbourn, 44, is a psychology student and community engagement coordinator for Abortion Survivors Network (ASN). She lives in California near Yosemite National Park with her husband of 23 years, Noah, 47, and their three children.

“I always tell people [my children are] second-generation abortion survivors, because my life was saved,” Milbourn told The Epoch Times, adding that she wouldn’t have survived if her abortionist, from a rural Illinois clinic in the late 70s, knew how to tear the limbs off a baby to complete the abortion.

“There’s a reason I work with abortion survivors. I’m on the frontlines of one of the most difficult battle lines we have in America right now, which is life.”

Milbourn will be speaking at the “March for Life” rally in California on March 6.

Epoch Times Photo
Jennifer Milbourn in 1982. (Courtesy of Jennifer Milbourn)

‘I’m Not a Disease’

Milbourn was born and raised until the age of seven in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, by her birth mother’s sister and her husband. She always knew she was adopted, but it wasn’t until a shopping trip in 1997 that Milbourn, then 19, challenged her adoptive mom to tell her something she didn’t know about herself and learned the painful truth of her birth story.

Unwed and pregnant, Milbourn’s birth mom had shown up on her sister’s doorstep in rural Illinois and asked her to accompany her to an abortion clinic. Her sister had begged her to reconsider, saying she would adopt the baby, but the plea fell on deaf ears.

“My grandfather was a state senator, and [my birth mom] had a very high-class lifestyle,” Milbourn said. “She left when she was very young. I don’t know all the details … I know that she was a waitress, that she drank a lot, and that my adoptive mom loved her very much.”

Milbourn’s family believes that her birth mom, in her desperation for an abortion, was dishonest at the clinic about being already 16 weeks along. Owing to the size of her baby, Milbourn’s birth mom’s clinician could not perform the abortion.

“My head wasn’t going to fit in the vacuum tube once they started the procedure,” Milbourn said. “The clinician had to pull back … it [hurts] to know that my mom was thinking of herself at the time and didn’t see me as a person. I’m not a disease that needs to be taken care of.”

Milbourn’s mother left the clinic under instruction to expect a miscarriage since the baby’s amniotic sac had been torn. When she discovered her baby had survived, she continued drinking and considered an offer of $10,000 from a couple on the East Coast wanting to buy her baby before her sister repeated her plea to adopt.

“Thankfully, she kept me within the family,” Milbourn said.

Epoch Times Photo
Jennifer Milbourn. (Courtesy of Jennifer Milbourn)

‘Forgive Her’

Milbourn was born in September 1978 with complications owing to fetal alcohol syndrome, for which she was medicated for years. As far as she knows, her birth mother never found out that she knew her abortion survival story.

Believing she must be the only person ever to survive abortion, Milbourn buried her pain and shame for a decade. She eventually shared her truth with her husband, and soon after, a conversation with God prompted her to think about forgiving her birth mom.

She said: “I was cleaning our bathroom floor in the master bathroom, I was scrubbing, and was listening to worship music. I just felt this small voice right inside say, ‘You need to forgive her,’ and I pushed it away three times. Then I realized, ‘this is a moment; I’m having a moment with Him.’

“I put the brush down and, on my knees already, I said the words out loud, ‘I forgive her.’ I didn’t feel much at that point, but for the next two months I was reminded every day to say it out loud.”

Epoch Times Photo
(Courtesy of Jennifer Milbourn)

Milbourn’s adoptive mom passed away from cancer. While helping her father with funeral arrangements, Milbourn had the opportunity to visit her birth mom and extend the hand of forgiveness but found the older woman extremely unwell and unable to connect.

She said: “I walked in that living room and saw her in her chair, and I knew that I had no business talking to her about why she tried to abort me … there was no way I would get an apology from her, or be able to have a lucid conversation about it. So I decided, in that moment, I need to forgive this woman; I need to do this for my heart.”

Milbourn’s birth mom died shortly after, but her daughter’s deep dive into her survival story had only just begun. Everything changed when a friend of Milbourn’s heard fellow abortion survivor Melissa Ohden speak in the California Valley.

“[My friend] came to my work and said, ‘You’re not the only one. I met an abortion survivor!’” Milbourn said. “I got Melissa’s email and I sent her an email … she responded back with kindness and love that only another abortion survivor can really convey. In that moment, I knew she was the real deal.”

‘God Saved My Life’

Milbourn met Ohden in person in 2020 when they filmed a “Faces of Choice” Superbowl commercial together in Houston, Texas. She had a life-changing interaction with former abortionist and current pro-life advocate, Dr. Kathi Aultman, at the same event.

“[Dr. Kathi] was actually watching me tell my story and she interrupted, started crying, and said that it was really common for most clinicians or abortionists at those small clinics to not know the next steps in an abortion, meaning that the person who performed the abortion on me didn’t know how to tear the limbs off a baby and be able to complete the abortion,” Milbourn said.

Epoch Times Photo
Jennifer Milbourn with her husband, Noah. (Courtesy of Jennifer Milbourn)

Dr. Kathi told Milbourn that she “lived miraculously,” lamenting that if she had been the abortionist, Milbourn would not have survived.

“She told me why she was crying was because she was so well trained and had taken so many courses in completing abortions, that she knew exactly how to tear apart a baby, and that if she had been my abortionist, she would have completed the procedure,” Milbourn said.

“It was definitely a very humbling, sobering moment.”

On a Mission to Save Lives

Advocating for life has become Milbourn’s passion and purpose. She represents ASN, Ohden, and fellow survivors at every annual “March for Life” rally, and believes while the abolition of Roe v. Wade is a “good step in the right direction,” there is still work to be done.

And Milbourn says it’s her faith that gives her the courage to continue.

“Growing up, I knew there was something bigger than me,” she said. “I [would] hop from church to church, because my family didn’t go … it wasn’t until I met my husband and he brought me to his church that I knew I was home. We got married, and I gave my life to the lord. We’re still Christians to this day, and that’s how we’ve raised our kids.”

Milbourn speaks proudly of their oldest son Ethan, a U.S. Marine, their daughter Madalyn, a worship leader, and their youngest son Gabriel, a university student on a football scholarship.

Milbourn questions why God saved her life and can gladly give myriad answers.

“It could be for my kids, for sure. It could be so my husband and I could be together,” she said. “There’s a mission here, this is why God saved my life 44 years ago … to put my life on the line, and continue to speak out for His babies that are being killed every day.”

Epoch Times Photo
(L–R): Gabriel, Jennifer, Ethan, Noah, and Madalyn Milbourn. (Courtesy of Jennifer Milbourn)

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