(CNSNews.com) – A former abortionist who said he had performed some 1,200 abortions before his conversion to pro-life activist, said Thursday at a House subcommittee hearing that abortion causes pain to unborn babies.
“If anybody thinks that ripping off arms and legs and crushing these children the way we’re doing during these procedures isn’t painful, they’re just kidding themselves ... badly kidding themselves,” Dr. Anthony Levatino said at a hearing on the District of Columbia Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.
Levantino was one of four witnesses at the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice hearing to discuss fetal pain and the bill, H.R. 1797, which would ban abortion after 20 weeks across the nation.
The first bill, introduced on April 26, would have applied the restriction only to the District of Columbia. But on May 17, Chairman Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), announced that he would amend the bill in committee to apply nationwide.
During the hearing, Franks showed photographs of aborted babies that allegedly died at the hands of an abortionist in Texas. Levantino told Franks that he estimated the babies were between 24 and 26 weeks gestation.
“These children almost had their heads torn off,” Levantino said.
Jill Stanek, a nurse who turned pro-life activist after witnessing babies born alive following an abortion being left to die, and Maureen Conic, an associated professor of Neurobiology and adjunct professor in pediatrics at the University of Utah School of Medicine, also testified.
Ranking member Rep. Art Nadler (D-N.Y.) dismissed the witnesses’ testimony, with the exception of the fourth witness, Christy Zink, who described having an abortion at almost 22 weeks after her son was diagnosed with neurological abnormalities.
“Some of the views we are going to hear today are in fact viewed by many in the field as outliers, no mainstream scientific though,” Nadler said, adding that the hearing was “an exercise of raw political power.”
Franks, whose bill is co-sponsored by 120 congressmen, including two Democrats, spoke passionately at the hearing about what abortion means to the unborn child and his or her mother.
“Whatever else happens during a late-term abortion – whatever else happens – a child dies a lonely and often painful death,” Franks said. “The mother is never the same and is often, no matter the circumstances, left with great loss and emotional heartache.
“And whatever gifts that child might have brought to humanity are, of course, lost forever,” Franks said.
The bill has been referred to committee.
As CNSNews.com previously reported, Levantino became a pro-life activist after losing his own daughter in a car accident. After performing a D&E abortion following his daughter’s death in 1984, Levantino “got sick.”
"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," he said at the time.
In his sworn written testimony Thursday, Levantino gave a graphic description of the kind of abortions he performed.
“Our patient today is 24 weeks pregnant. At twenty-four weeks from last menstrual period her uterus is two finger-breadths above the umbilicus. If you could see her baby, which is quite easy on an ultrasound, she would be as long as your hand plus a half from the top of her head to the bottom of her rump not counting the legs. Your patient has been feeling her baby kick for the last month or more but now she is asleep on an operating room table and you are there to help her with her problem pregnancy.
The first task is remove the laminaria that had earlier been placed in the cervix to dilate it sufficiently to allow the procedure you are about to perform. With that accomplished, direct your attention to the surgical instruments arranged on a small table to your right. The first instrument you reach for is a 14-French suction catheter. It is clear plastic and about nine inches long. It has a bore through the center approximately ¾ of an inch in diameter.
Picture yourself introducing this catheter through the cervix and instructing the circulating nurse to turn on the suction machine, which is connected through clear plastic tubing to the catheter. What you will see is a pale yellow fluid that looks a lot like urine coming through the catheter into a glass bottle on the suction machine. This is the amniotic fluid that surrounded the baby to protect her. With suction complete, look for your Sopher clamp. This instrument is about 13 inches long and made of stainless steel. At the business end are located jaws about 2 ½ inches long and about ¾ of an inch wide with rows of sharp ridges or teeth. This instrument is for grasping and crushing tissue. When it gets hold of something, it does not let go. A second trimester D&E abortion is a blind procedure. The baby can be in any orientation or position inside the uterus. Picture yourself reaching in with the Sopher clamp and grasping anything you can.
At twenty-four weeks gestation, the uterus is thin and soft so be careful not to perforate or puncture the walls. Once you have grasped something inside, squeeze on the clamp to set the jaws and pull hard – really hard. You feel something let go and out pops a fully formed leg about six inches long.
Reach in again and grasp whatever you can. Set the jaw and pull really hard once again and out pops an arm about the same length. Reach in again and again with that clamp and tear out the spine, intestines, heart and lungs.
The toughest part of a D&E abortion is extracting the baby’s head. The head of a baby that age is about the size of a large plum and is now free floating inside the uterine cavity. You can be pretty sure you have hold of it if the Sopher clamp is spread about as far as your fingers will allow. You will know you have it right when you crush down on the clamp and see white gelatinous material coming through the cervix. That was the baby’s brains. You can then extract the skull pieces. Many times a little face will come out and stare back at you.
Congratulations! You have just successfully performed a second trimester Suction D&E abortion. You just affirmed her right to choose.
If you refuse to believe that this procedure inflicts severe pain on that unborn child, please think again.”