Former abortionist tells Congress: Ban late-term abortions

posted at 1:21 pm on May 24, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Via Greg Hengler, this testimony to the Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice may be even more chilling than some of the testimony at Kermit Gosnell’s trial.  In part, that’s because former abortionist Dr. Anthony Levantino describes the “normal” process of later-term abortions, and not just the supposedly outlier practices of Gosnell and his co-defendants.  Levantino, speaking in support of a bill to ban all abortions after 20 weeks offered by Rep. Trent Franks in response to the exposure of the Gosnell case and others like it, dispassionately describes how abortionists tear fetuses apart limb from limb in such procedures:

LifeNews has the transcript of the testimony:

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 thirteen inches long and made of stainless steel. At the 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 d own 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.

Levantino then testifies that, in his years of practice, he has never seen a situation where a mother’s life could be saved through this procedure, emphases mine:

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. When utilizing the D&X abortion procedure, popularly known as Partial-Birth Abortion, 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 mother’s life is seriously threatened by her pregnancy, 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. As you are probably aware, 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 hundreds of cases, the number of unborn children that I had to deliberately kill was zero.

Levantino abandoned his abortion practice after the tragic death of his own daughter in a car accident.  His testimony exposes the lies on which abortions — especially late-term abortions — are based.  Be sure to watch all of the way through when Levantino quotes Barack Obama on the need to do what we can even if just to save the life of one child, and then contact your elected Representative to tell him or her what that one thing might be.

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