OBGYN switches sides

It is not often the word “abortion” is not met with some sort of debate. Both those who are pro-life and those who are pro-choice have heated opinions on the emotionally charged issue.

Last night the organization Falcons For Life hoped to spark a discussion about the subject with their event “Learn the Truth About Abortion.” Over 60 students, faculty and staff were in attendance as Dr. Tony Levatino talked about his experiences as a former abortion doctor.

In a half an hour presentation Dr. Levatino told his story of how he went from being a pro-choice OBGYN to a pro-life activist.

Dr. Levatino, who performed abortions from the late 1970s until the early 1980s, said that the main reason doctors perform abortions is because of the amount of money in the business.

“I would make $600 an abortion, it was easy money,” Levatino said. “I could perform three or four in the morning and then go play golf in the afternoon.”

Dr. Levatino brought with him the tools used in the procedure and a few abortion horror stories to tell the audience. He explained that he was generally unaffected by these procedures until the death of his young daughter in 1984.

“A few weeks after the accident I went into the operating room, as I normally would, prepared to do my job,” Levatino said. “Then I ripped out an arm of a child and just stared at it. It was the first time I really looked. I didn’t see her right to choose, I didn’t see the $600, I just saw somebody’s son or daughter on the table.”

“After that I just could not perform abortions anymore,” Levatino said.

After his speech the doctor opened the floor to audience questions and comments. Marcus Ricci, who works at the Center For Choice in Toledo, emphasized his belief that schools need to become involved in comprehensive education.

“We need to start with education, which educates students on the use of condoms and birth control,” Ricci said. “Right now Lucas county has abstinence-only education and this obviously is not working.”

“I think that if abortion were to become illegal it could become more dangerous,” Ricci said. “Women would have to leave the country and would not be able to go to a legal provider unless they could find one who could find another reason. Then it really would become a class issue.”

Gina Tortorella, president of Falcons for Life, said that the mission of the organization is to educate the college community on abortion.

“Often abortion is shoved in your face in college and you don’t really get a lot of facts about it,” Tortorella said. “We try to change that.”

Tortorella said that the organization brought Dr. Levatino to campus to help persuade people to make the personal choice for life.

The debate on abortion has been a heated once since the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize abortion in the 1973 Roe V. Wade decision. According to the pro-choice organization NARAL’s Web site, “Making abortion access more difficult and dangerous is a key tactic of the anti-choice movement … 87 percent of U.S. counties have no abortion provider. Yet anti-choice lawmakers continue to impose a broad range of restrictions on women and their doctors, making abortion difficult, and in some cases nearly impossible, to obtain.”

The pro-life side of the issue is just as heated. The National Right to Life’s Web site emphasizes the belief that a life starts at conception.

“A new individual human being begins at fertilization, when the sperm and ovum meet to form a single cell. If the baby’s life is not interrupted, he or she will someday become an adult man or woman,” according to the Web site.

The debate will likely wage on between those who are pro-life and pro-choice but the Falcons For Life event last night certainly did promote discussion over the heated abortion issue.