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

John Jalsevac

In 2012 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.

"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." 

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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Gone are atheists like George Bernard Shaw, eager to take on apologists like G.K. Chesterton in battle. Instead, we have snarky, mocking snipes like Bill Maher, men who do not seek to understand.

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Atheists aren’t even trying any more…and why that’s terrifying

Jonathon van Maren Jonathon van Maren Follow Jonathon

Christian scholars, speakers, authors and apologists are beginning to notice a trend: Atheists no longer even try to understand Christianity. They don’t take Christian beliefs seriously, and they don’t find them relevant. Worse: They find Christians ridiculous, unintelligent idiots who believe in all sorts of ludicrous notions. Gone are atheists like George Bernard Shaw, eager to take on apologists like G.K. Chesterton in battle. Gone, it seems, are even atheists like Christopher Hitchens, willing to spar with philosophers like William Lane Craig. Instead, we have snarky, mocking snipes like Bill Maher, men who do not seek to engage or understand.

Simply put, secularists cannot understand why Christians act the way that they do, because their perception of reality is fundamentally different. For the secularist, there is only the physical. Things are what they are. For the Christian, the metaphysical is as real as the physical, and these realms interact on every level. A miracle may strike a Christian with awe, but the Christian possesses a worldview that allows him to understand what a miracle is—the Creator intervening directly in the created order in a visible way. A secularist insists that the miracle could not have happened, pointing out that the natural order does not function that way—in essence, accusing a miracle of being…a miracle.

Secularists claim to have placed their faith in “reason,” when in reality this is simply another way of saying that they have placed their faith in themselves. They will only believe in what they can understand. The problem is that the Religion of Reason is a circular feedback loop: Reason cannot in and of itself prove that reason is rational. One must have faith that it is. The secularist must believe that his brain, supposedly created by chance and programmed over millions of years of natural selection to react instinctively in certain ways, is capable of independent thought. A rather ludicrous notion, when you think about it.

As I said to one university student in debate: “Any god that can fit within the confines of your skull is a god too small for anyone to worship.” He was offended by this statement—a true secularist. As Chesterton wrote: “The poet only asks to get his head into the heavens. It is the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his head. And it is his head that splits.” 

It’s important for us to realize that secularists and Christians don’t just believe different things, but see everything differently. In the secularist world, there is no Heaven, no Hell, no angels, no devils, no world unseen—or at least, no world that could not be seen.

Adding to that, of course, this means there is no soul, no good, and no evil. This is a fact that no secularist truly wants to confront: I remember my psychology professor calling off our seminar a half hour early after I asked her repeatedly to give me one philosophically coherent reason that rape was wrong in a world that slouched into existence by accident. Besides a few feeble appeals to subjective “social contracts” and the like, she could not. For there to be any objective moral law, there has to be a Lawgiver.

The chasm between the world as Christians see it and the world as secularists see it is deep, dark, and wide. That is why the presently raging culture wars so often seem as if the two sides are simply yelling into the abyss—because these battles mean very different things to the opposing armies.

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As I noted in my column on euthanasia last week, secularists see euthanasia more or less in terms of ushering a suffering animal out of his or her misery. Humans, in the materialist view, are soulless animals, and thus it may actually be more compassionate or merciful to kill someone suffering awful pain than it would be to consider palliative care. When secularism put the idea of human exceptionalism to death, it guaranteed that many humans would be put to death, too. After all, why not?

So it is too with abortion. Every once in a while when an abortion activist tells me that the human being in the womb is just a clump of cells, I like to point out that she is just a clump of cells, as well. But this argument isn’t always indicative of scientific illiteracy—although that is often the case. Sometimes, it is an accurate depiction of how they see human life. For people to value human life, they have to have a reason to value human life. Secularism has yet to mount a truly consistent, much less philosophically coherent, reason to value human beings. Instead, it puts forward the inherently discriminatory notion of “personhood,” which has been used to exclude and oppress women, African Americans, aboriginals, Jews, and now the pre-born. At no point in recent human history have all human beings been considered persons, and at no point in recent human history have we stopped killing those excluded from this subjective category invented by the strong to oppress the weak.

This chasm is also why secularists cannot agree with Christians on the Sexual Revolution—because no one can even agree on a definition of what sex is to begin with. For Christians, sex was created to be unitive and procreative, serving to bond the husband and the wife, with that love at times being blessed with the miraculous creation of a new human being. From the metaphysical standpoint, marriage represents the relationship between the Lord Jesus and His church.

While the secularist may agree that those are certainly options for sex, in their relativist world, sex is whatever makes you feel good. If one of those engaging in the interaction can extract some measure of pleasure, then it is “good”—and any orifice will do: two animals moving their soulless bodies about with one another to produce a pleasant sensation. Thus, hollowing out and redefining marriage, disregarding gender, and abandoning the traditional family structure are an inevitable result of the spread of secularism. Physical heresies multiply.

The culture wars have been fought for decades, and Christians have been losing. Secularists have long stopped trying to debate Christians or understand the Judeo-Christian building blocks upon which Western civilization has been precariously perched these last few centuries. From late night TV to Hollywood to the mainstream media, Christians are treated with contempt and scorn. That contempt is turning swiftly into intolerance, as many Christian beliefs are being recast as bigoted and hateful.

It is paramount that Christians arm themselves with the tools to fight back.

Editor’s Note: This is Part I of a Two-Part Series

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Few consider the implications of giving doctors the right to kill. Shutterstock

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Keeping the piranhas busy: the terrifying implications of legalizing assisted suicide

Jonathon van Maren Jonathon van Maren Follow Jonathon

Jan. 27, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) - Reading the news these days, I’m reminded of a practice used for generations by the inhabitants of the Amazonian jungles. When crossing rivers with their cattle, they would need to ensure that the razor-toothed piranhas wouldn’t detect them splashing through the water. So a weak, old, or sickly cow would be led upstream and forced into the water. As the piranhas shot in for the kill and reduced the hapless animal to glistening bones in a matter of minutes, the rest of the herd would cross the river before the piranhas were done devouring the scapegoat. One dies so the others can escape without being noticed.

It’s hard not to get the feeling that the same thing is happening in our culture right now. Euthanasia, for example, is creeping in with barely a whimper. Sure, the same few tireless anti-euthanasia warriors who have fought this in the courts for decades are still trying to rouse people to action. But who else seems to care, really? Many church communities feel secure in the knowledge that they run their own faith-based care facilities and thus their beloved elderly ones will be safe. Others take their aging parents into their own homes if the time comes, and so do not think such policies will impact them.

Few consider the implications of giving doctors the right to kill.

Each time a rule is broken, society shrugs its shoulders, and says, “I’ll allow it.” And the piranhas are kept busy for just a little longer.

Because that’s what boils down to. Those advocating for truncation of human lives are carefully sanitizing every term so we won’t notice what is actually happening. The promotion and facilitation of suicide as a “medical option,” for example, is now nauseatingly referred to in virtually every media outlet as “physician-assisted dying.” Rather than pointing out that doctors are ending the lives of patients and discussing what could go wrong in such scenarios, we’re told that we would be inhumane to deny people “death with dignity.”

We should know, instinctively, that this is all rather disturbing. Andrew Coyne highlighted this brilliantly in the National Post when he asked whether doctors preparing to give the “patient” a lethal injection would have to sterilize the needle. I wondered in a column last week how doctors summon the next victim from the waiting room: “Excuse me, Ms. Adams, the doctor will kill you now.”

Those advocating for euthanasia ceaselessly appeal to our humanity, begging us to consider someone in the final, agonizing stages of dying, insultingly insinuating that there can be no dignity in such circumstances. They let slip their true beliefs, lurking just beneath the surface of their eye-watering words: Their lives aren’t worth anything anymore. They have no quality of life anymore. Let them die with dignity. Or, just as accurately: Let us kill them with medical efficiency.

In reality, it is humanity that is being lost. We no longer believe in human exceptionalism, because the underlying belief here is that we have no soul. That once the poison finishes coursing through our veins and we breathe our last, that’s it. Curtains closed. There’s no sense that death might not be the end, and that self-murder being our final action might have consequences. That’s why it’s okay to talk about putting Grandma to sleep like some beloved family pet. There’s no awe for the precious gift of life, and no solemn reflection about what implications these actions might have for the life beyond.

It’s the unspoken reality in the current debate—as muted as it is—on euthanasia. Those of us who oppose euthanasia have a much different view of life and death than our materialist opponents. We have a much different view on what dignity really is. We don’t see death as a solution. We especially don’t see killing as a solution.

But we’ve come a long way down this road now. Decades of horror stories leaking out of the abortion industry have not swayed those who championed its legalization—with a few prominent exceptions. That euthanasia is being used not as a last resort, but as suicide-on-demand in Europe is ignored by those who argue that for the dying to have dignity, they must die faster. More specifically, we must kill them. And we Christians plod stolidly on, deluding ourselves in the belief that the piranhas will not eventually turn their attention back downstream.

Whether or not one believes that humans have souls, and that there is life after death, surely we can all agree that giving medical professionals the right to kill people is a horrifying mistake. Surely we can look across the ocean to countries who have already been where we are, at this moment, and chose to step forward into a world where the depressed, the disabled, the blind, the old, the very young, and even the unwilling can be dispatched by doctors. Each time a rule is broken, society shrugs its shoulders, and says, “I’ll allow it.”

And the piranhas are kept busy for just a little longer.

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"We are not going to turn human beings into cattle for sale, to help pick cotton. We will turn them into cattle for other purposes."

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Slavery returns

Anthony Esolen Anthony Esolen Follow Anthony

By the time the disastrous and punitive Reconstruction ended in the southern states, as part of an understanding that settled the disputed presidential election of 1876, men of intelligence and reasonably good will no longer defended the “peculiar institution” of slavery. They affirmed, with a defensiveness that should not surprise us, that everyone had always acknowledged it to be an evil. The task now was what to do to achieve the common good, given that the black man was free and equal to the white man under the law.  

So I find, in some of my old copies of The Century (1884-85), an eloquent and passionate argument between two southern men, one decrying segregation, and the other defending it as something that the people of each race were naturally drawn to, and insisted upon. And yet the specter of slavery lingered in the dark corners of men's imaginations. Blacks feared its return, and the habits that slavery had long engendered could not be eradicated by political change.

What was the evil of slavery? It cannot be merely that one man's will was subject to another. If that were all, then children would be slaves of their parents, employees would be slaves of their employers, enlisted men would be the slaves of their officers, and all of us would be slaves of politicians. A Christian cannot consider the sacrifice of his will, in itself, to be evil, nor the unimpeded exercise of his will to be good.

“Let there be subordination among you,” says Saint Paul, who is speaking not only of husbands and wives, but of all Christians. Obedience is the virtue whereby a son hears the will of his father, and makes it his own. “The Son does nothing but what He sees the Father do,” says Jesus. Obedience raises the lower to share in the authority of the higher, just as the hand obeys the direction of the head; the hand is the head's executor. Christians are to love one another – and love does not insist upon its own; love does not envy any advantage the beloved may enjoy. Love speaks the generous language of praise, not the squinting language of equality.

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What was the evil? It cannot have been service. A politician battening upon the public wealth will still call it by the exalted name of “public service.” Even he must fool himself into believing that he does what he does not to stuff his wallet and to erect for himself castles of power, but to benefit his clients, the citizens. The harpies of Child Protective Services, destroying a family and herding its children into foster care and misery, must persuade themselves that they are serving, not domineering.  

The heart of the evil was not something human, abused. It was something inhuman; and the inhumanity is with us still.

I do not mean simply that it was unkind. Consider a bustling slave mart. The huckster brings on the stage a “strong young buck, with good teeth,” “plenty of smarts,” “clean skin,” and so forth. Then “a pretty female,” with “wide hips and a firm bosom,” auguring well for a bumper crop of slave children to help pick the cotton. My flesh crawls to write the words.

The evil is to reduce a human being to a commodity, like a prize steer. It is to think of a man or a woman or a child as a thing, a product. God made man in His image and likeness. We sinners would like to raise men like cattle, or to produce men, like articles of furniture.

The slave owner had a rejoinder ready. “We treat our slaves well,” he might say. “We feed them, we care for them when they are sick, we introduce them to the faith, we rejoice with them and we mourn with them. They are more than slaves to us. They are a part of our family.” We need not suppose that all of the people who said such things were simply lying. Many of them must have believed what they were saying. They were not monsters. And that is one of the mysteries of evil, that people who are by nature no more monstrous than anyone can become accustomed to monstrous evil. Yet they can never be entirely unaware of it, either. So it's no surprise that, after the Civil War, the men and women who had had their mouths pried open for buyers to check for cavities shied away from the buyers, and vice versa. Not a “race instinct,” as the apologist for segregation would have it, but bad conscience.

Have we learned the lesson? No, man never does learn. Oh, we learn it as it applies to the specific form of the evil; we are not going to turn human beings into cattle for sale, to help pick cotton. We will turn them into cattle for other purposes.

Or into artifacts. Some of my readers will have heard of the man suing a surrogate mother (whom he has taken out on lease, like a milk cow), trying to compel her to thin out the triplet-herd she had conceived by him by “reproductive technology.” The evil here spreads like a fungus far beyond the vile murder-on-demand. Or you will have heard of attempts by others, especially homosexuals, to mix and match genes, so as to produce children of two or even three “parents,” just as you would mix paint colors, or plan out the moldings on a remodeled parlor. Or you may have heard of the doctor in the aptly named Netherlands, upon seeing a child with Down Syndrome, jesting with sang froid, “Looks like we missed one!” Such children are culled out, like misshapen loaves of bread coming down the conveyor belt. They are factory rejects, human garbage. The rest of us are wrapped up in cultural cellophane and tagged with a Grade A. Only the best, you know.

So we speed along like brainless teenagers on a debauch, to a new slavery, the manufacture of mankind according to the specifications of the makers. Perhaps we will grow little ones to provide us with healthy organs for harvesting. Who knows? There is no bottom to the evil to which man can fall. If there were a bottom, that would imply that evil was a thing in itself, like matter with an absolute limit of cold, rather than a privation, a defect of being, a disintegration. Chaos knows only one limit, and that is nonexistence.

God help us.

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