Dr. Anthony Levatino speaks to medical personnel at Resurrection Hospital [Photo by Corrina Gura]
One July morning when Pro-Life Action League staffers Corrina Gura and Urszula Mihai were praying and sidewalk counseling outside Albany abortion clinic on Chicago’s northwest side, a young woman approached them. She had been to Albany the day before and had initiated a three-day late-term abortion procedure involving the insertion of laminaria to expand the cervix before a dilation and evacuation (D&E) abortion.
But then she had a change of heart. She wanted to stop the abortion. She called several hospitals and no one would help her. She was returning to Albany because it seemed she had no other choice.
Baby Saved Halfway through Abortion
The emergency room personnel at Resurrection called in the obstetrical staff. A pro-life obstetrician, who had never dealt with reversing an abortion procedure before, stepped in to take care of the young woman. Everything went smoothly. The laminaria were removed, the abortion was halted and the young woman left happy.
A few weeks later, Cathy Mieding, a gifted veteran sidewalk counselor, intervened with another young woman who was vacillating on whether to go on with her late-term abortion. Like the previous woman, she was midway through the process. Cathy took her to the Women’s Center and once again the counselor recommended Resurrection Hospital.
But this time, things did not go so well. The emergency room doctor—possibly more concerned with his own potential liability than with the immediate danger facing the unborn baby—repeatedly asked the young woman if she actually wanted the laminaria removed. Cathy became worried that his pressing inquiries would cause her to change her mind again and go ahead with the abortion.
Cathy called me on my cell phone. Providentially, I happened to be at the Thomas More Society law office in downtown Chicago for a meeting, where Sr. Christine, a member of the Resurrection Sisters, frequently volunteers. Sr. Christine got through to the CEO of Resurrection Hospital, Sr. Donna Marie Wolowicki, and I explained the situation. Sr. Donna made a beeline to the emergency room to make sure the young pregnant woman was taken care of, with both her and her unborn baby’s welfare in mind.
New Life-Saving Protocol Needed
Following this second incident, I suggested that the League should work out some arrangement with Resurrection Hospital for dealing with similar cases in the future. Sr. Donna was thinking the same thing. She arranged for a meeting at Resurrection with me, Cathy Mieding, Corrina, Women’s Center director Mary Strom and two Resurrection Health Care ethicists.
The initial meeting was very productive. All parties agreed that it would be beneficial to everyone to devise a procedure for efficiently handling cases where a woman is already involved in a late-term abortion and has changed her mind. Sr. Donna suggested that we each draw up a proposal for how a new protocol would work, then the hospital would work out the details.
As Sr. Donna pointed out, the physicians and staff in the emergency room were unprepared for this type of situation. They know what to do if a patient arrives with a broken bone, chest pains or some sort of injury. But a pregnant woman who has changed her mind about an elective abortion is completely different.
Sister saw a need to educate the hospital personnel on what is involved and what to expect. I offered to contact Dr. Anthony Levatino, a former abortionist and practicing gynecologist, to invite him to speak to the Resurrection staff on how to handle these cases.
Former Abortionist Shares Expertise
Providence was at work again. Dr. Levatino happened to be speaking in St. Paul, Minnesota on October 21. He was eager to be a part of this project and changed his return flight, scheduling a quick side trip to Chicago before heading back home to Las Cruces, New Mexico. Resurrection Hospital is located only minutes from Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, so the logistics worked perfectly.
Dr. Levatino addressed the physicians and staff on October 22, giving a comprehensive presentation and fielding questions from both hospital staff and the pro-lifers in attendance.
Sr. Donna insisted that a system be put in place as quickly as possible so that pregnant women could be adequately cared for by the skilled physicians and medical staff at Resurrection. She also suggested that in cases where the pregnant woman does not already have a physician for her prenatal care, she could be referred to one of Resurrection’s “New Beginnings” programs, providing prenatal care at one of Resurrection Health Care’s satellite hospitals, with delivery of the baby at Resurrection Hospital, all at no charge.
“I am so pleased the Resurrection Medical Center is able to be a small part of the beautiful work that you are all doing for the unborn,” Sister Donna remarked.
Model Pro-Life Collabration
The Pro-Life Action League is excited about this new alliance with Resurrection Health Care and The Women’s Centers in establishing a protocol for assisting women who change their minds after initiating a second trimester abortion procedure.
We hope that the new protocols worked out with Resurrection Hospital will become a model for cooperation between Catholic hospitals and pro-life ministries across the country, and lead to many more women being given a last chance to reverse the abortion decision and choose life for their babies.
We often hear complaints about Catholic and Christian hospitals not living up to their Christian principles. This new alliance with Resurrection is a sterling example of the way ministries in Christ’s Church can answer His call for unity and work closely together for the good of His most vulnerable children.
It is especially heartwarming as we make our way through Advent and think about Jesus as an unborn baby in His mother’s womb. The unborn have an ally in Resurrection Hospital.