THE PRO-LIFE SPEAKING GIG

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ABORTION ISN’T MURDER, EVANGELICALS AGREE

Anthony Levatino is an OB/GYN who works for the Pro-Life Action League, an activist anti-abortion group based in Chicago.

Dr. Levatino used to do abortions. He estimates that he terminated around 1,200 pregnancies during the fetus-killing phase of his career. He stopped doing these procedures when his own child was tragically killed. He’d been, in his words, “morally neutral” about abortions, but when his daughter died, he saw life in a different way.  He gave up pregnancy terminations and took up speaking for the pro-life cause.

Let’s cut all the way to the chase. If Pro-Lifers believed abortion to be murder, they would not speak to or about this man who murdered in warm blood 1,200 human babies. That’s this many individual babies:

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If you believe abortion to be the murder of a human child, Anthony Levatino, M.D., is Eichmann-level evil. You should retch when you say his name. You should not watch his videos about how fetuses are dismembered, listen to his moralizing, smile and nod about how he’s seen the light. You should be repulsed. You should not pay him to speak to your group.

Money CC By: 401(K) 2012 - SA - Flickr
Creative Commons By: 401(K) 2012 – Flickr

To be clear, Dr. Levatino and his wife do gigs. They are paid speakers represented by Ambassador Speakers, whose motto is “Representing Today’s Leading Christian Speakers.”  In other words, you don’t believe he murdered 1,200 human babies. You believe, admit it, that this “leading Christian speaker” terminated unwanted pregnancies for desperate women. If you believe he is a mass murderer of babies and you pay him to speak to your pro-life group, you are a Jew inviting Eichmann to speak to your Hadassah group about the intricacies of the Final Solution and why, in retrospect, it wasn’t such a great idea after all. Are you not? If you say no, you will have to explain to me the difference, and you can’t do that. Not if you believe abortion is murder. You will have to admit, won’t you, that the murder of the born is somehow more heinous than the murder of the not-yet-born?

“What about forgiveness?” you say. What about it? “What about compassion for a changed life?” Yeah, what about that, too? Again, pro-life-ism is not about pro-life-in-general, but only about pro-life-in-utero. Otherwise people asking “What about forgiveness?” and “What about compassion for a changed life?” would be tearing down American capital punishment laws until their hands bled and all those death sentences were commuted to life without parole. I mean, seriously, it’s not like those convicted murderers are going to get out of prison and go around making money by detailing their crimes for enthralled church-goers and check-writing donors.

The Women, On the Other Hand

Dr. Levatino performed 1,200 abortions because, as he says, he just fell into killing fetuses after medical school, and after all, there was money to be made.  It’s what you do. You reach up into women’s hobby lobbies and tear out their growing offspring and throw them in the trash. Change your mind, you’re the mother lode of propaganda for the Ultra-Right and they’ll pay you for your service, thank you very much, especially if you are able—as another Ambassador speaker, Abby Johnson, a former abortion provider, is—to “bring down the house” with comedic timing and pull in “our highest giving ever!” Read the comments about how funny she is and how much money her hilarious talks are in the comments  at the bottom of this page here.

Lost - Pixabay CC0 Feet Cropped - SquareThe women, on the other hand—the surviving victims of Dr. Levatino’s and Ms. Johnson’s crimes—came for abortions out of fear and desperation and longing to be free of unplanned and possibly dangerous pregnancies, and left with life-long branding. Scarlet A’s on their reputations,  a continual barrage of “baby killer!” shouted at them by do-gooders and January marchers and clinic blockers.

One would think that the weaker party—the woman in distress—would be accorded far more compassion and grace than the party who was in this transaction for the cold cash. Not so in pro-life-first-ism. There, a woman who has had an abortion is often shunned, avoided, whispered about. On a good day she might be pitied or explained away. Her abortion won’t be forgotten.

You don’t believe she’s a murderer either, by the way. Because if Dr. Levatino committed murder, our archetypal woman-in-distress has put out the hit on her own baby.  And you don’t believe that. If you believed that, you’d do more than consign her to a life of second-classism and object-lesson-ness. (It’s true that there may be some readers who reach out to mothers who have killed their children with kindness and grace, and good for them. Let us hope they do the same for the women who have had abortions.)

Even so,  you’re far more likely to “forgive” the doctor and hire him and the lovely Mrs. Levatino (they come as a set!) to speak to your church group (!!!!) than you are to let the living victim of his crime teach Sunday School.

Doll Sweet Tears Toys Cry Girl CC0 - Max PixelThis is because patriarchy—and let’s be clear, American fundagelicalism is nothing if not patriarchal—waxes stronger and stronger. A doctor who kills 1,200 fetuses is “forgiven” and given a platform to talk about his crimes, while a poor woman who carried her pregnancies to term is castigated for being a welfare queen, for living off the state, for being entitled.

I have strong views about abortion, even in the early stages of pregnancy. This article is not about my views. It is about the views of Pro-Life-always-and-only-ism, which is a political cause that has made millions and millions of dollars for Right Wing candidates and speakers and agendas over the decades since Roe V. Wade out of pliant pewsitters and other GOPers who, in their hearts, don’t really believe Dr. Levitano and others like him are murderers. No, he’s a man who suffered a personal tragedy that changed his mind about how he wanted his OB/GYN practice to run, and then parlayed that change into another income stream, that of a paid pro-life speaker. If you believed him to be a murderer, you would not come to hear him speak.  You would not post his video to Facebook. You would not.

Pro-Life-Only-ism is the powerful political religion of the far right GOP to which Vice President Pence belongs. We heard his boss, the President, say last year that “there has to be some punishment” for the women who get abortions. More on the Veep’s views to come.

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Sharon Hambrick grew up in Fundamentalist Christianity and still “defaults” Fundy much of the time, to her own consternation. A licensed California lawyer, mother of five, wife of one, writer, inveterate road-tripper, and burgeoning feminist Democrat, Sharon wept away November 9, but woke up on November 10 determined to do something. When the idea of a Pence Watch was presented to her, she eagerly hopped on board.
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