(CNSNews.com) – Priests for Life, a Catholic advocacy group that wants to end abortion and euthanasia, brought its message to Capitol Hill last week by letting Dr. Anthony Levatino share the graphic details of a procedure he performed hundreds of times -- before a personal tragedy led him to become a pro-life activist.
“Imagine for a moment you are a pro-choice obstetrician-gynecologist like I once was,” Levatino said at press conference. “Your patient today is 17 years old and she is 20 weeks pregnant. At 20 weeks, she has been feeling her baby kick for the last two weeks. If you could see her baby, she would be as long as your hand from the top of her head to the bottom of her rump, not counting the legs. Your patient is now asleep on an operating room table and you are there to help her with her problem pregnancy.”
Levatino went on to describe how he used a 13-inch instrument for “grasping” inside the uterus to remove the baby, piece by piece.
“The toughest part of a D&E [dilation and evacuation] abortion is extracting the baby’s head,” Levatino said. “If you have a really bad day, like I often did, a little face may come out and stare back at you.”
“We urge our fellow citizens to face the reality of what abortion is: an act of violence that kills a child,” said Rev. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, at the press conference. Rev. Pavone added that the group also wants the men and women in the U.S. Congress who support abortion to hear their message.
“In these weeks before our national elections, we are asking all of those who believe abortion should be legal to answer a simple question. We present you with the words of the abortionists themselves and then ask, “When you say abortion, is this what you mean?”
Levatino, who still practices as an obstetrician and gynecologist, stood next to scale models of unborn babies at different stages of development. Charts detailed how the two most common second-trimester abortions are performed. He demonstrated with surgical tools how babies are taken apart as they are removed from the uterus.
But, he told CNSNews.com, it wasn’t until he faced a different kind of death that he decided he could no longer perform abortions.
“My wife and I had an infertility problem,” Levatino said. “We were unable to have children, and after several years of effort, we were very, very fortunate in being able to adopt a little girl whom we named Heather. As sometimes happens, after years of effort -- and I mean three surgeries on my wife’s part and everything else -- we finally adopted a child, and my wife got pregnant the very next month. We ended up with two children just 10 months apart. We were very blessed that way.
“On June 23, 1984, my son was trying to cross the street, and my daughter, who was always the little mother, was running after him to tell him not to do that, and she was struck and killed by a car.
“If you haven’t gone through that kind of tragedy, you don’t have a clue. You may think you can imagine it, but trust me: You have no idea what it’s like to lose a child, in any way.
“What do you do after a tragedy? You mourn for a while and you try to get back into your routine. I don’t know how long after her death I had to do my first D&E abortion. I remember reaching in and literally ripping out an arm or a leg and looking at it in the clamp and I got sick. When you start an abortion you can’t stop. If you leave anything behind, you [can] bet your patient is going to come back infected, bleeding or worse.
“I soldiered on and I finished that abortion.”
But, Levatino said, something had changed.
“For the first time in my life I really looked at that pile of goo at the side of the table, and all of a sudden I didn’t see her wonderful right to choose, and I didn’t see the $600 wad of cash that I made in 15 minutes, and I couldn’t think about what a great doctor I was because I took care of her problem. All I could see was somebody’s son or daughter.”
Levatino is now a medical adviser for Priests for Life and last week, he helped members of the group canvas the halls of Congress to show pro-abortion legislators medical charts and models and to ask them the question, “When you say the word ‘abortion,’ is this what you mean?”
“The last thing abortion supporters want to talk about is abortion,” Pavone said. “But this campaign puts the words of the abortionists before the public, so that those who vote in favor of abortion can no longer hide from its violent reality.”
Several other advisers with Priest for Life were at the press conference, including Alveda King, pastor, pro-life activist and niece of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.