Life is beautiful

By Tom Quiner

I witnessed something extraordinary a week ago.

In many respects, it was life-changing. More on it in a minute.

It made me think of a wonderful story told by the late Dr. Norman Vincent Peale. Dr. Peale was a minister and author of the classic book, “The Power of Positive Thinking.”

Dr. Peale was walking with a friend who complained incessantly about all the problems in his life. Oh … his life would be wonderful if it wasn’t for all those problems.

Dr. Peale told him he knew of a place where no one had any problems, not a one.

His friend exclaimed, “Where is this place? You must take me to this place!” Dr. Peale turned the corner and led him to the gate of the local cemetery. “Not a single person here has any more problems.”

His friend sputtered something again about all of his problems to Dr. Peale who responded, “My friend, problems are a sign of life.  Welcome them.  The man with 6 problems is twice as alive as the man with 3 problems. I encourage you to go home tonight, get down on your knees and pray for God to give you more problems!”

So what did I witness last week?

I heard a woman talk about her life, how she is changing the world, how she is making the world a better place.

Melissa Ohden, abortion survivor

What is unique about Melissa Ohden? She was aborted at five months.

The year was 1977.

The place was St. Luke’s hospital in Sioux City, Iowa.

For five days, an abortionist pumped saline solution into her mother’s womb.

On the fifth day, Melissa was aborted. She was presumed to be dead, her little body left lying on a cold, undignified table while the nurse tended to her nineteen year old unmarried mother.

And then the nurse noticed Melissa. She was still alive, struggling for life.

By Iowa law, the medical community was required to treat and try to save this aborted child.

And they did.

She lived. She was adopted into a loving family. Miraculously, she was left unimpaired by the saline assault on her baby skin and eyes.

My life was changed listening to Ms. Ohden. She taught about Christ’s call to forgive. Despite the devastating knowledge that her natural parents wanted to abort her, she forgave them.

She truly forgave them. She wasn’t just saying it, she was living it. And she was at peace with that little problem from her life.

She told us about answered prayers. She met a priest one day who told her something interesting. In 1977, he made it a habit to pray in front of St. Luke’s hospital for God to spare a child targeted to be aborted.

Melissa told him that she was that child. Prayers are never wasted she told us.

And she is proof.

She talked about divine irony. Thirty years after her undignified entrance into this world, she herself gave birth to a beautiful daughter. Who was the attending nurse? You guessed it, the nurse who tended to Melissa in the same hospital thirty years earlier.

The nurse told her she would never forget that experience.

Abortion causes such intergenerational pain. That is Melissa’s mission in life, to help heal the pain caused by the “problems” of abortion. To that aim, she has founded “For Olivia’s Sake.”

What would the world be like without Melissa Ohden?


Ms. Ohden told us something tragic, that some surveys reveal as many as 60% of women were coerced into their abortions … and regret it the rest of their lives.

That’s what happened with her natural mother, she subsequently learned.

One of her quotes that stuck with me is that “abortion doesn’t do beautiful things for a family.” She said we’re living in a post-abortive world, surrounded by the walking wounded.

Who are these wounded?


And fathers.

Think about YOUR life for a moment. If it’s like mine, you’ve got problems. But those problems are a sign of life, as Dr. Peale reminds us.

Even more, each of our lives is a gift.

Each of our lives has purpose.

And despite the problems, despite the pain, Melissa Ohden reminds us how wonderful each of our lives are.

I thank Iowans for Life and their Director, Maggie Dewitte, for bringing Melissa Ohden to Des Moines last week with her simple message:  life is beautiful.


  1. maxine bechtel on July 26, 2011 at 7:02 am

    Thanks for that inspiring true story!! It SHOULD transform the calloused thinking of those “Choice” Advocates who prefer convenience above compassion and love for life!! Sadly, we have a President who while an illinois lawmaker voted against legislation to spare the life of babies who survive abortion!

  2. […] You remember her: I wrote about her after hearing her speak last year (“Life is beautiful”). […]

  3. […] Finally, Joe, you should talk to the girl herself, you know, the one who survived the abortion. Her name is Melissa Ohden. She’s a mother now, with children of her own. I wrote a blogpost about her a few years called, “Life is Beautiful.” […]