St Louis, MO -- Dr. Anthony Levatino credits one patient who had tremendous perseverance and faith with helping change his career path.
Levatino is a former abortion practitioner who spoke to about 400 people at a Vitae Society dinner Tuesday evening at Drury Lodge. He talked about his career and the change his life took after he stopped performing abortions.
Levatino told how one patient, a woman named Susan, spent eight years telling him that Jesus loved him and that performing abortions wasn't part of God's plan for his life. She would visit his practice every year for a physical and annual exam and then deliver that message. Sometimes it came in cards or with a plate of brownies, but Levatino always tried to ignore it.
It took eight years for her message to hit home.
Levatino had worked hard to avoid the topic -- even at home with his wife, Cecelia. The couple rarely spoke about abortion or the effect it had on their relationship.
But the couple said there came a time when the issue couldn't be ignored any longer. They had suffered through a tragedy -- the death of their young daughter -- and that helped them realize what effect abortion had on their family.
Levatino spoke about starting out in practice seeking what every doctor wants: happy and healthy patients. He had no qualms about performing abortions because he felt it supported a woman's right to choose. After his daughter's death, he and his wife drifted further apart and never grieved over their loss or the irony of Levatino's work.
"He had gotten into this blame game," Cecelia Levatino said. "He would blame the nurse for scheduling it or the patient for getting pregnant."
Eventually, she confronted him and said if he had problems with abortions, it must be his fault.
"The pressure builds and builds and that was the first time we'd talked about it," he said. Three months later, he told his partners he wouldn't do the second-trimester abortions. "I said I'd do the little ones but when you feel in your heart you're killing babies, then it doesn't make any difference how big they are."
Another three months passed before he stopped performing abortions altogether.
Now the Levatinos are involved in a number of pro-life outreaches and Dr. Levatino serves as the medical consultant for Pregnancy Centers Online (www.pregnancycenters.org), a web site that helps women in various crisis or unplanned pregnancy situations.
The couple spoke about the need for more people who can make a difference. The story of Susan's devotion shows the effect of one person who works and acts in faith, they said.
Carl Landwehr, president of the Vitae Society in Missouri, asked members to consider their role in helping spread the message of the movement and to help women choose life over abortion. "We should not be a society to send women to abortion clinics," he said. "We should honor them for being heroes and for the sacrifices they made."
The event serves as a fund-raising campaign for the organization, which airs advertisements on local television stations. The goal for Tuesday's benefit was to raise $60,000 to fund commercials.
Source: Southeast Missourian; August 30, 2001