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Dr. Anthony Levatino has practiced obstetrics and gynecology since 1980. As a part of his medical training, Dr. Levatino was taught to do abortions. He provided abortions for his patients in his office for eight years. In 1985 he quit doing abortions and is now in private practice as an obstetrician gynecologist.
Dr. Levatino told his story at the first Meet the Abortion Providers conference in November 1987. His statement has been slightly edited for readability.
Dr. Anthony Levatino
I have never been involved in a large-scale abortion mill, a business that was set up for the sole purpose of performing abortions. My experiences are perhaps a bit more universal in terms of obstetricians and gynecologists in the country who were trained to do abortions during their residencies and then continued doing so as part of their private practice, but not even the major part. Certainly it was never a major part of our private practice.
My partner and I, however, were relatively important in the Albany area for one infamous fact, which to this day I regret. Our group was just about the only group that was performing late abortions, D & E procedures, Dilatation and Evacuation. And we received referrals from all over the area in our part of the state, even from neighboring counties 70 to 80 miles away. We had a lot of patients.
I've never actually counted. I'm glad I can't say that I'm responsible for 50,000 plus abortions, but I know I've done hundreds of the procedures. That's direct, hands-on involvement, with the forceps in your hand, reaching into somebody's uterus and tearing out a baby.
Why do doctors do abortions? There are many reasons. It's profitable, there's a lot of money in it! But there's philosophical things that come first. As I'm fond of telling people, if you are pro-choice and you happen to be a gynecologist, then it's up to you to take the instruments in hand and actively perform an abortion. It's the most natural association in the world.
Along the way you find out you make a lot of money doing abortions. In my practice we were averaging between $250 and $500 for an abortion, and it was cash.
There are other reasons; they're perhaps no less important. I've heard many times from other obstetricians: Well, I'm not really pro-abortion, I'm pro-woman. How many times have you heard that one? The women's groups in this country, they're not alone, but they've done a very good job selling that bill of goods to the population. That somehow destroying a life is pro-woman. But a lot of obstetricians use that justification to themselves, and I can tell you, a lot of them believe it. I used to. It's not hard to be convinced of it.[Back to Top]
During my residency, at least once, sometimes twice a week, I would be the resident whose turn it was to sit down and do the four, or five, or six suction D & C abortions that morning.
When the abortionist finishes a suction D & C he has to literally reassemble the child.
When the abortionist finishes a suction D & C, he has to open a little suction bag and he has to literally reassemble the child. He has to do that because he wants to make sure he didn't leave anything behind.
I had complications, just like everybody else. I have perforated uteruses. I have had all kinds of problems -- bleeding, infection -- Lord knows how many of those women are sterile now.
I remember getting called down to my chairman's office because a young lady that I had done an abortion on showed up, and the abortion had been incomplete. I had not done my job right, and she passed an arm or a leg and she freaked out because she didn't realize what had happened.
My discomfort came at that point because there was a tremendous conflict going on inside me. Here I was doing my D & Cs, five and six a week, and I was doing salines on a nightly basis whenever I was on call.
I wish one of these people would just let me have their child. But it doesn't work that way.
The resident on call got the job of doing the salines and there would usually be two or three of those. They were horrible because you saw one intact, whole baby being born, and sometimes they were alive. That was very, very frightening. It was a very stomach-turning kind of existence.
Yet, I was doing that at the same time that my wife and I were trying to have a child, and we were having difficulty with that. We had been married a couple of years at that point -- and no baby. Suddenly, we realized we had an infertility problem.
I kept doing abortions, I didn't stop. But it was tough. We started desperately looking for a baby to adopt, and I was throwing them in the garbage at the rate of nine and ten a week. It even occurred to me then: I wish one of these people would just let me have their child. But it doesn't work that way. So the conflict was there.[Back to Top]
Most of the time in our practice was spent providing obstetrical care for people who wanted their children. It is very common for an obstetrician to have an ultrasound machine. We use that ultrasound machine on a daily basis.
As a doctor, you know that these are children. Because you see the children in there -- hearts beating, arms flinging.
As a doctor, you know that these are children; you know that these are human beings with arms and legs and heads and they move around and they are very active. But you get reminded -- every time you put that scanner down on somebody's uterus -- you are reminded. Because you see the children in there -- hearts beating, arms flinging.
We have a ball with it. It is a lot of fun. We have people coming in who have bleeding and who are afraid they may have a miscarriage -- now this is someone who wants to have their child. There is no better news for me than to put that scanner on them at seven and eight weeks and show them a heartbeat and say: Your baby is okay. You do that as an obstetrician all the time.
And then, an hour later, you change your clothes, walk into an operating room and do an abortion. If you have any heart at all, it affects you.
We were lucky. My wife and I were very fortunate because we had gone through all the usual adoption agencies trying to find our child. We ran up against one road block after another, until suddenly I got the bright idea: I know 45 obstetricians on a first-name basis in this town, one of them has to have a baby available for private adoption.
So, we advertised. We talked to every obstetrician in town. It still took four months, but one day we got a call, I will never forget that day. Three days later we had adopted a healthy little girl. We were satisfied. We called her Heather.
After graduation I joined a gynecologist in the Albany area. My partner did D & E abortions. In fact, he was the referral center for D & E abortions in the area. So, I learned to do D & E abortions.
Now I had a family of my own, and there was no pressure to adopt a child anymore. As often happens, although the books say it is not supposed to, after we adopted a child, after years of trying, we had a child of our own. So we had a boy and a girl, and we were perfectly happy with that.
And I learned the grizzly business of D & E abortion. Again, I didn't particularly like doing abortions, but my partner did abortions and I didn't object to it morally, so we worked together. I was on salary at the time, as a new partner, so it made not a whit of difference on my income. I did it to be agreeable. It's a lousy reason in retrospect, but that was my reason. That was our business for years to come.[Back to Top]
Life was good until June 23, 1984. On that date, I was on call, but I was at home at the time. We had some friends over, and our children were playing in the back of the yard.
At 7:25 that evening, we heard the screech of brakes out in front of the house. We ran outside and Heather was lying in the road. We did everything we could, and she died.
When you lose a child, your child, life is very different. Everything changes. All of a sudden, the idea of a person's life becomes very real. It is not an embryology course anymore. It's not just a couple of hundred dollars. It's the real thing. It's your child you buried.
The old discomforts came back in spades. I couldn't even think about a D & C abortion anymore. No way. I tried to carry on business as usual, and I did just the office abortions for the next few months.
My wife has said that she wishes she had videotapes of me during that time. We were under enough strain as it was, but if I knew I had an abortion scheduled in the office the next day, I got very surly. I was hard to be around.
I started to realize this is somebody's child. I am killing somebody's child.
I got very, very rough with the staff in our office. Every time I was asked to schedule an abortion, I got very angry. I began feeling that people were doing something to me. That was ridiculous -- I was doing it to myself.
After a few months of that I started to realize -- this is somebody's child. I lost my child, someone who was very precious to us. And now I am taking somebody's child and I am tearing him right out of their womb. I am killing somebody's child.
That is what it took to get me to change. My own sense of self-esteem went down the tubes. I began to feel like a paid assassin. That's exactly what I was. It got to the point where it just wasn't worth it to me anymore. It was costing me too much personally. All the money in the world wouldn't have made a difference.
So I quit. I slept a lot better at night after that.[Providers Index] [Back to Top]