Talk to Gianna Jessen for just a few minutes and she’s likely to punctuate every sentence with a deep, infectious laugh. Talk to her for a while longer and, as her story unfolds, it becomes apparent that the constant joy has overcome unspeakable challenges.
In many regards, her life has been a short path littered with obstacles at every turn: challenges, betrayal, and cruelty. But for every setback, there have also been invitations into the greatest halls of government. A life that was never meant to be has been used to inspire—even save—others.
You see, Gianna Jessen was intended to die before she was born, just another one of the 1.2 million abortions each year in the United States. Instead of death, though, Gianna was bathed in a burning saline solution, but she overcame to enter the world. Two months premature and weighing just two and a half pounds, she spent her first couple of months in a hospital. Eventually, she entered the foster care system.
The failed abortion had also provided the “gift” of cerebral palsy, as she calls it: “It allows me to really depend on Jesus for everything.”
It also labeled her a hopeless case—an infant who was a ward of the state and for whom the expectations of achievement were extremely low. Doctors predicted Gianna would never even lift her head. She showed them: she began walking at three and has grown into a woman who has run marathons.
And that’s just the beginning of the places where her grit and determination have carried her. Though the horrific hours of her birth initially drew attention, Gianna has so much more to say: “My life and my story didn’t begin and end at my birth.”