Gianna Jessen (born April 6, 1977, Los Angeles, California) is an American Christian pro-life activist. The crux of her activism is that she was born with cerebral palsy because of a failed saline abortion attempt.
Gianna Jessen was born April 6, 1977 in Los Angeles, California with cerebral palsy, a non-progressive, non-contagious motor condition that affects various areas of body movement. She was adopted at the age of four, after living in foster care since infancy.
Jessen's career as an activist began in 1991, when she was 14. At that time, her adoptive mother, Dianna DePaul, asserted that Jessen was born in the 30th week of pregnancy to a 17 year old girl during a failed saline abortion attempt. In reporting the story and publicizing Jessen's early life to the nation, the New York Times observed that Jessen and Becky Bell, a teenage girl who died as a result of an unsafe abortion in 1988, had become the symbols of America's debate over abortion and characterized them as "poster girls whose stories are being shrewdly marketed by their supporters to keep passions high." Jessen is a stage name that was adopted when she began her activism.
In 1995, four years after Jessen was placed in the national spotlight, author Jessica Shaver published a biography on Jessen. In early 1996, Festival of Light Australia sponsored an Australian tour, during which Jessen spoke at venues in all states and territories. About two years later, on May 20, 1998, Muriel Patterson, a member of the Western Australian Legislative Council, read extracts of Jessen's 1995 biography to the Western Australian Legislative Council during the then-pending Acts Amendment (Abortion) Bill.
In his speech at the 2002 signing of the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act President George W. Bush mentioned Jessen, acknowledging her presence and extending his appreciation.
In December 2005 Jessen travelled to London to support a campaign to reduce the number of abortions under the UK Abortion Act and to speak at a parliamentary meeting at the House of Commons. Both the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of Westminster indicated that they hoped her story would encourage Parliament to look again at abortion.
On May 8, 2006, the Colorado State House of Representatives considered a resolution honoring the 90th anniversary of a local branch of Planned Parenthood. Republican Representative Ted Harvey "told the woman's story on the same day... because, 'I just wanted to put a face to this celebration'."
In September 2008 Jessen was in Canberra, Australia, sponsored by the Australian Christian Lobby, to lobby federal politicians on late term abortions. The same month, Jessen appeared in an advertisement during the US presidential campaign asserting that, "if Barack Obama had his way, I wouldn't be here." In reply, the Barack Obama for President campaign stated that presidential candidate John McCain wanted to ban abortions even in cases of rape or incest.