John Jalsevac

The most heartrending abortion testimony you’ll ever hear, from a former abortionist

John Jalsevac

Last week a former abortionist, who admits to having committed around 1200 abortions, appeared before a U.S. House subcommittee. The hearing was on the so-called Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would ban abortions after 20 weeks in D.C., based upon the fact that unborn babies can experience pain at that stage of pregnancy.

Dr. Anthony Levatino, who has since turned his life around and is pro-life, was speaking in favor of the ban. And his testimony is perhaps the most brutal explanation you will ever hear for why abortion is evil - plain and simple. (Read his testimony below, with the strongest portions in bold.)

For those who may be tempted to write off Levatino’s testimony because he’s just “another pro-life nutjob,” it’s interesting how his testimony has eerie echoes to that of notorious late-term abortionist Leroy Carhart, who is still involved in the gruesome trade. During a preliminary injunction hearing in a US District Court in 1997 on the issue of late-term abortions, Carhart testified that he would sometimes dismember advanced-stage unborn babies during abortions, while the babies were still alive. Carhart described in detail the process of grasping the limb of the baby to be removed, and then twisting it off. When asked if the babies usually die during the process of dismemberment, Carhart responded, “I don’t really know. I know that the fetus is alive during the process most of the time because I can see the fetal heartbeat on the ultrasound.”

How is this considered anything but evil?


Testimony of Anthony Levatino, MD, JD before the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Committee on the Judiciary, U.S. House of Representatives on The District of Columbia Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (H.R. 3803)
May 17, 2012

Chairman Franks and distinguished members of the subcommittee, my name is Anthony Levatino. I am a board-certified obstetrician gynecologist. I received my medical degree from Albany Medical College in Albany, New York in 1976, and completed my OB-GYN residency training at Albany Medical Center in 1980. In my 32-year career, I have been privileged to practice obstetrics and gynecology in both private and university settings. From June 1993 until September 2000, I was associate professor of OB-GYN at the Albany Medical College, serving at different times as both medical student director and residency program director. I have also dedicated many years to private practice and currently operate a solo gynecology practice in Las Cruces, New Mexico. I appreciate your kind invitation to address issues related to the District of Columbia Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (H.R. 3803).

During my residency training and during my first five years of private practice, I performed both first and second-trimester abortions. During my residency years, second- trimester abortions were typically performed using saline infusion or, occasionally, prostaglandin instillation techniques. These procedures were difficult, expensive and necessitated that patients go through labor to expel their pre-born children. By 1980, at the time I entered private practice first in Florida and then in upstate New York, those of us in the abortion industry were looking for a more efficient method of second-trimester abortion. We found that the “Suction dilation and evacuation” procedure (or “Suction D&E”) offered clear advantages over older installation methods. The procedure was much quicker and never ran the risk of a live birth.

Understand that my partner and I were not running an abortion clinic. We practiced general obstetrics and gynecology, but abortion was definitely part of that practice. Relatively few gynecologists in upstate New York would perform such a procedure at the time, and we saw an opportunity to expand our abortion practice. I performed first-trimester suction dilation and curettage abortions in my office up to 10 weeks from last menstrual period and later procedures in an outpatient hospital setting. From 1981 through February 1985, I performed approximately 1200 abortions. Over 100 of them were second-trimester Suction D&E procedures up to 24 weeks gestation, by which I mean 24 weeks from the first day of the woman’s last menstrual period (LMP), which is equivalent to 22 weeks post-fertilization age.


Imagine, if you can, that you are a pro-choice obstetrician/gynecologist like I once was. Your patient today is 24 weeks pregnant (LMP). 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 to remove the laminaria that had earlier been placed in the cervix, the opening to the uterus, 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 • 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 the 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 thirteen inches long and made of stainless steel. At the business end are located jaws about 2 inches long and about 1/2 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 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 may come out and stare back at you. Congratulations! You have just successfully performed a second-trimester Suction D&E abortion.

If you refuse to believe that this procedure inflicts severe pain on that unborn child, please think again.

Before I close, I want to make a comment on the claims that I often hear that we must keep abortion legal in order to save women’s lives, or prevent grave physical health damage, in cases of acute conditions that can and do arise in pregnancy. Albany Medical Center, where I worked for over seven years, is a tertiary referral center that accepts patients with life-threatening conditions related to or caused by pregnancy. I personally treated hundreds of women with such conditions in my tenure there. There are several conditions that can arise or worsen, typically during the late second or third trimester of pregnancy, that require immediate care. In many of those cases, ending or “terminating” the pregnancy, if you prefer, can be life saving, but “terminating a pregnancy” does not necessarily mean “abortion.” I maintain that abortion is seldom if ever a useful intervention in these cases.

Here is why: Before a Suction D&E procedure can be performed, the cervix must first be sufficiently dilated. In my practice, this was accomplished with serial placement of laminaria. Laminaria is a type of sterilized seaweed that absorbs water over several hours and swells to several times its original diameter. Multiple placements of several laminaria at a time are absolutely required prior to attempting a suction D&E. In the mid-second trimester, this requires approximately 36 hours to accomplish. If one were to use the alternate method defined in federal law as Partial-Birth Abortion (but now generally banned), this process requires three days, as explained by Dr. Martin Haskell in his 1992 paper that first described this type of abortion.

In cases where a pregnancy places a woman in danger of death or grave physical injury, a doctor more often than not doesn’t have 36 hours, much less 72 hours, to resolve the problem. Let me illustrate with a real-life case that I managed while at the Albany Medical Center. A patient arrived one night at 28 weeks gestation with severe pre-eclampsia or toxemia. Her blood pressure on admission was 220/160. A normal blood pressure is approximately 120/80. This patient’s pregnancy was a threat to her life and the life of her unborn child. She could very well be minutes or hours away from a major stroke. This case was managed successfully by rapidly stabilizing the patient’s blood pressure and “terminating” her pregnancy by Cesarean section. She and her baby did well. This is a typical case in the world of high-risk obstetrics. In most such cases, any attempt to perform an abortion “to save the mother’s life” would entail undue and dangerous delay in providing appropriate, truly life-saving care. During my time at Albany Medical Center I managed hundreds of such cases by “terminating” pregnancies to save mother’s lives. In all those cases, the number of unborn children that I had to deliberately kill was zero.

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The Giver gives us the secret to fighting the Culture of Death

Melanie Pritchard Melanie Pritchard Follow Melanie
By Melanie Pritchard

I remember reading The Giver in junior high school and even as a child I knew there was something wrong with living in a world with no freedom. The main character in the story named Jonas empowered me as a youth to have courage and be protective of my free will.

It is many years later and the message of The Giver seems ever so relevant. The threat of a totalitarian society never seemed so imminent as it does today. As Christians, we are in a constant battle fighting for our freedoms.

I had the great opportunity to attend a pre-screening of the movie The Giver, starring Brenton Thwaites, Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep and even a short appearance by teen icon Taylor Swift. This dynamic cast made my childhood memories reading The Giver come alive.

In case you are unfamiliar with the book and film, the movie’s plot summary reads

The haunting story of THE GIVER centers on Jonas, a young man who lives in a seemingly ideal, if colorless, world of conformity and contentment. Yet as he begins to spend time with The Giver, who is the sole keeper of all the community's memories, Jonas quickly begins to discover the dark and deadly truths of his community's secret past. With this newfound power of knowledge, he realizes that the stakes are higher than imagined - a matter of life and death for himself and those he loves most. At extreme odds, Jonas knows that he must escape their world to protect them all - a challenge that no one has ever succeeded at before.

Each member of the society is protected from the truth and reality of history, yet one person in the community is chosen to receive the memories of the past in order to inform the elders in their decisions. The society uses compulsory morning medication to numb the feelings and emotions of their people. Infanticide and euthanasia are how they maintain “sameness” and a “perfect” society.

That is until one person has courage to expose the truth.

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This perfect society demands that no one ever tell a lie, but the method they use to get their people to conform is through a series of lies; at best, willful ignorance.

One of the lines in the movie that stands out to me is when Jonas, the main character, says, “We haven’t eliminated murder, we just call it by another name.”

Is all of this sounding familiar? We live in a world where, although information is at our fingertips, people don’t seek to know the truth about our history in order to inform their decisions. News programs and politicians saturate us with lies in order to get people to conform to their biases. In the United States of America, for example, our government has just taken our choices in healthcare away and is chipping away at our other freedoms of choice and conscience. Yet, they continue to defend the choice of abortion. They haven’t eliminated murder; they just call it by another name….CHOICE. And, abortion/infanticide and euthanasia are how our culture weeds out the unwanted as well just like in The Giver.

One of the other restrictions of freedoms in the movie requires the characters to speak with “precision of language.” I imagine a pro-abortion person seeing this film and clinging to the story of the main character fighting for the freedom to choose, and naively thinking this movie supports their agenda. They will most likely miss the fact that the word “choice” has been hijacked and robbed of its actual meaning and purpose. Abortion advocates have successfully contorted that word to mask what they are really asking for in this so-called freedom of choice. Pro-abortion leaders have mastered the art of using “precision of language” to convince people that abortion is about choice rather than about a mother killing her unborn child.

So how do we turn this around? The answer is in The Giver. We think for ourselves. We allow love to guide us; instead of selfishness and false compassion. We seek truth in the past and do not be afraid of knowledge. We stop allowing people to distort our language and demand that people call things by what they really are. And, we have the courage to stand up against our friends and even family members who have been brainwashed into conforming to a type of “sameness” that is destructive to democracy.

This movie opened on August 15th and I imagine some people will walk out missing the point, but I hope it will be an awakening to what happens when we give others too much power over our freedoms and our thoughts.

Check out the trailer and information about the movie here.

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To play or sing real music, good music, not music to cut your throat or curdle your soul by, is like playing ball in the fresh air with friends, only better. Shutterstock

Why doesn’t anyone play music any more?

Anthony Esolen Anthony Esolen Follow Anthony
By Anthony Esolen

“I am never merry when I hear sweet music,” says the sprightly Jessica to her husband Lorenzo. They are young and wholly in love with one another. It is night, and they're waiting on a balcony for the return of their friends, including the noble lady of the house. Lorenzo has called for music to welcome her back.

Jessica doesn't mean that sweet music is a damper upon her soul. She means that when she hears it, she no longer feels like jesting; it is too moving for that. Lorenzo replies, “The reason is, your spirits are attentive.” Music in its “touches of sweet harmony” raises a sympathetic resonance within. But be wary, says Lorenzo, of “the man that hath no music in his soul,” because his imaginations are dark, and he is fit only for stratagems and spoils.    

For Shakespeare, music has a healing power. The doctor orders soft music to be played while Lear, the “child-changed king,” comes back to consciousness, his loving daughter Cordelia looking on in prayer. Paulina orders music to strike when she commands Hermione, or is it a statue of Hermione, to “be stone no more,” to descend, for dear life has redeemed her from death. The good old loyal servant Adam, dying of hunger in the forest of Arden, is restored to life with food and wistful music.  

I have seldom seen anything so lovely, and so normal and healthy, than a family of young children playing Celtic music together on their fiddles, enjoying one another's company, and for that time separated from, or elevated above, all the crass stupidities of the world about us.  

Shakespeare did not invent the notion that music helps to tune and order the soul. It's something we all know, deep down. Plato says that a true education for youths is a musical one, in the broadest sense: an education in harmony, decorum, and beauty. Bad music, at its most innocuous, is background noise that trains the ear in not hearing; the best you can say about it is that you learn to ignore it. At its most noxious, bad music corrupts the soul; its rhythms, not to mention its lyrics, may be those that submerge us in brutality. I see in my mind's eye a young man, lonely, angry, shooting pool at a drinking hole, listening to that dark genius Jim Morrison singing about a woman, not in love but in furious desire to possess and consume.

But if you wish to form a sweet and wholesome imagination in your children, music, good music, is one of the mightiest allies that nature and human ingenuity can provide. 

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This is especially true when children learn to play music. I've heard that 1961 was the first year in which sales of records in the United States outpaced sales of sheet music. I'm surprised it took that long; but if you rummage about in antique shops, you'll see that there used to be many companies whose sole business was to print sheet music, not usually in books, but rather by the song.

There's all kinds of indirect evidence to suggest that every family had somebody who played an instrument, in school, for a local band, in church, or for family gatherings. Perhaps a majority of these music-makers were self-taught and played by ear, as did Laura Ingalls Wilder's father, Charles. They played folk songs like “Old Dan Tucker” and “Loch Lomond,” the works of folk-style composers, like “I Dream of Jeannie” (Stephen Foster), and folk hymns, like “In the Sweet By and By.” They played hundreds of melodies, and people who didn't play might sing along. They often did so in harmony. For Protestants had long experience of singing harmony parts in their churches, since their hymnals were scored for soprano, alto, tenor, and bass.  

Sometimes a whole community would come together to make music. I have in front of me a little book, by no means unusual for the time, called Twice 55 Community Songs, published in 1917 and probably reprinted fairly regularly; my copy, an edition especially for Canada, is no earlier than 1924. What's in it? Jaunty patriotic anthems: “The Maple Leaf Forever,” “Men of Harlech,” “Rule Britannia,” “The Marseillaise.” Sweet love songs: “Juanita,” “Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes,” “Flow Gently, Sweet Afton,” “Annie Laurie.” Songs of faraway places: “Aloha Oe,” “The Volga Boatman.” Spirituals: “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,” “Steal Away.” Hymns: “Lead, Kindly Light,” “Nearer, My God, to Thee.” Silly songs and rounds: “Reuben and Rachel,” “Alouette.” Dvorak and Mendelssohn are next to “Carry Me Back to Old Virginny.”    

There's something for every sort of mood or whimsy, and every sort of love and loyalty for things dearly held or fondly remembered. The songs no more sound all alike than the steppes of Russia look like the hills of Scotland, or a lullaby sounds like a march to battle. They are songs meant for everyone, men and women, old people and young parents and small children.

Why do I write about this? To play or sing real music, good music, not music to cut your throat or curdle your soul by, is like playing ball in the fresh air with friends, only better, because it sends its roots far more deeply down into the memory. I have seldom seen anything so lovely, and so normal and healthy, than a family of young children playing Celtic music together on their fiddles, enjoying one another's company, and for that time separated from, or elevated above, all the crass stupidities of the world about us.  

Such music is more akin to the gentle silences of nature than to the noise of airports, television commercials, and mass-produced auditory jitters. It is more akin to laughter than to shouting, to the natural movement of an animal in its home than to the rattle and rasp of a machine. It is a prelude to love, not a lubricant for dispirited fornicators. When it is not at the threshold of the church, it is still within sight of the steeple.

It is our friend, because it is natural and therefore aims ultimately toward God Himself. Mark the music.

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There is intense social pressure to avoid even bringing up any controversial moral issues, and doing so can result in ire, accusations, and marginalization. Shutterstock


3 ways to defend your conservative beliefs, AND still have friends afterwards

Jonathon van Maren Jonathon van Maren Follow Jonathon
By Jonathon van Maren

The year of our Lord 2014 finds us in a much different era than even a few short decades ago. The belief that a corrupt and decadent cabal of academics, politicians, and celebrities are trumpeting trends that the average hard-working, moral citizen - the “moral majority” - despises, has long since crumbled.

Presidential candidate George McGovern was widely mocked in 1972 as running on a platform of “acid, amnesty, and abortion.” The Obama Democrats in 2012 called that a winning strategy.

The Sexual Revolution has made a clean sweep. Any pretence North Americans might have of living in “godly” nations look almost humorously naive. As the moral majority fades to a distinctly despised minority, how can Christians articulate their now-despised views on anything from marriage to abortion to the hook-up culture? There is intense social pressure to avoid even bringing up any of these topics, and doing so can result in ire, accusations, and marginalization.

The biblical book of Proverbs informs us, “A soft answer turneth away wrath.” Better advice in our current culture wars could not possibly be given.

I remember one awkward moment back in university, when I attended a Fraser Institute dinner featuring George W. Bush’s right-hand man, Karl Rove. After he finished his analysis of the 2008 election campaigns, Rove took questions from the audience. One wealthy attendee, probably assuming that it was a safe joke, made some comment about a certain Democrat—I can’t recall which—having a string of wives. Rove’s short, terse response killed every snicker in the room: “I’ve been divorced.”

I sympathized with the hapless businessman. I began my own university career hopelessly unequipped to deal with any discussions articulating my Christian beliefs. I realized very quickly that the principles I had taken for granted, coming as I did from a loving home with parents married for life and with my views untainted by the sexual nihilism promoted by the television shows they did not permit in the house, were not at all the consensus.

Some disagreed with these principles because they were inconvenient. Others, because they were moral relativists. Others, because they thought religion was stupid. Many of these people were my classmates. Some of them became my friends. And as I navigated the shrilly left-wing landscape of modern university, I learned a few ways of defending my principles without automatically alienating those I was debating.

  1. Always ask questions.

Anyone who has taken a pro-life training course will not be surprised to hear that the Socratic Method is always the best. When I was confronted by university friends and peers on some of my perspectives that they found downright incredible, questions were always helpful. One friend demanded to know why I wasn’t sleeping around. I responded with a question: “How many of the people that you were with do you wish you hadn’t hooked up with?” After a pause, the thoughtful response: “Most of them, I guess. Maybe even all of them.”

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Another classmate demanded to know how I could call myself “a dude” if I wasn’t “sleeping with chicks.” I simply asked him whether it took more of a man to keep one woman happy for a lifetime or dozens for ten minutes. To that one, I got an arched eyebrow, an appreciative chuckle, and no follow-up questioning. In none of these cases and many others did I end up in a verbal brawl over sexual ethics. Instead, they thought about their own views, and gained a bit of respect for mine.

  1. Always see whoever you’re debating with as a person first.

I know it seems trite and perhaps a bit precious, but it’s absolutely true. I remember watching a documentary on the battle over Proposition 8 in California, where gay marriage proponents and opponents screamed at each other in the streets, unstoppable force meeting immovable object. It brings to mind a few lines from Matthew Arnold’s poem “Dover Beach,” in which he explains that the world:

Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.

However, when you discuss things with people instead of placards, it’s amazing how the relationships that form can help others question some of their perspectives.

We see this all the time debating abortion—once people realize that you’re not going to yell at them, that you just want to chat, and that you’re not judgemental monsters who are there to condemn them, they calm down. One pro-choice protestor screamed at me for ten minutes. Eventually, however, we had a three hour conversation that resulted in her tearing up her own sign. Once I was no longer a protestor but a person, she had to take me more seriously. She just had to realize that pro-lifers were people before she could grasp that pre-born children, are, too.

Another time I was chatting with one of my friends, who happens to be gay, with whom I have extensively debated cultural issues. He started to talk about how support for traditional marriage is bigoted. But I interrupted him with a question: “Would you call me homophobic?”

He barely paused. “I’d call you a friend,” he said, and carried on with the conversation.

  1. Don’t get angry.

Trust me, I know this one is difficult sometimes. At university, I failed this one multiple times. But if you choose to engage—and you should—on cultural issues like abortion or pornography or sexual ethics in general, where people’s views are often rooted in their own experiences and those of people that they love, staying calm is essential. As defensive as you might be when your principles are under attack, always remember that the people you are discussing or arguing with are probably just as defensive as you are.

The biblical book of Proverbs informs us, “A soft answer turneth away wrath.” Better advice in our current culture wars could not possibly be given. That doesn’t mean we compromise on truth, and it doesn’t mean that there isn’t a time for “righteous indignation” in defence of our beliefs. But in the context of a one-on-one conversation with a university peer, many of whom will try to bait you, this advice is essential. I was involved in all sorts of campus rabble-rousing at university, and while I, being the loudmouth that I am, thoroughly enjoyed vociferous encounters, one of the lessons I learned and have learned time and time again since is that we often need less heat and more light. Keep your cool, and you might be surprised at how productive your conversations will turn out.


In summation, I always think of my discussions with university peers in the terms of one of Aesop’s Fables. The Wind and the Sun were debating as to which was the strongest, and decided to have a contest to resolve the issue. They decided to see which one of them could cause a man walking down the road to take off his cloak. The Wind howled and blew and whipped around the man, who only clung to his cloak all the harder and pulled it around him, until the Wind finally gave up in despair. The Sun simply shone brighter and warmer until the man relinquished his cloak and took it off. We have a chance on campuses to have real, meaningful discussions with our peers on the issues that matter the most. And we should.

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