Some 10,000 people joined a first-of-its-kind Web event over the weekend that was focused on educating the public on how to end abortion.
Coordinated by 40 Days for Life, the 10-hour webcast conference on Saturday was designed to set the stage for greater involvement in local pro-life efforts around the country. It was launched as the first step in the Ending Abortion initiative.
With large participation from pro-life groups and the public as well as over 35 speakers, David Bereit, national director of 40 Days for Life, was encouraged by what he called "a renewed groundswell of grassroots interest" in the pro-life movement.
"We are a united movement that collaborates to do everything we can to end abortion," he said during the conference.
"After 52 million lives have been lost to abortion, after millions of women have been wounded by abortion, after the abortion industry has tried to ramrod through its agenda in every way it can ... people are recognizing that enough is enough and this must end," he added.
Dr. Tony Levatino is a former abortionist whose testimony is known in the pro-life circle. He practiced obstetrics and gynecology in private practice since 1980. He never ran an abortion clinic but did perform first- and second-trimester abortions at his routine OBGYN office.
Recalling the D&E (dilation and evacuation) method that he and his partner used for late-term abortions, Levatino walked listeners on Saturday through the gruesome procedure.
"You reach for an instrument, ... it's about 13 inches long, stainless steel, and it has rows of sharp teeth at one end. It's a grasping instrument. When it gets a hold of something it doesn't let go," he explained.
When performing a D&E abortion, you can't see anything, he said. "Everything's by feel." He would take the instrument, reach in and blindly grasp for anything.
"When you get a hold of something, feel yourself pulling and I mean hard," Levatino said, as he guided listeners along. "And when suddenly it pops free, out comes the leg, about four inches long which you put down on the table next to you."
He would continue to do that until lastly, he removed the head (about the size of a plum), sometimes seeing a little face staring back at him.
"Congratulations, you just performed a second-trimester D&E abortion," he said. "You just affirmed her right to choose. You just made $600 cash in 15 minutes."
Levatino, who performed over 1,200 abortions, became a pro-life advocate after his adopted daughter was killed in an auto accident in 1984.
When he went back to performing a D&E abortion after the accident, he got literally ill, he said. He had to finish the procedure but afterward, he felt a change in heart.
"For the first time after all those years and all those abortions I wasn't thinking of what a great doctor I was and I wasn't thinking of her wonderful right to choose and I wasn't even thinking of the $600 cash I just made in 15 minutes. All I could see is somebody's son or daughter. And I really looked at that pile of goo on the side of the table and all I could think of was 'My god, this was somebody's son or daughter.'"
Well-known abortion survivor Gianna Jessen was also a featured speaker in the Web event. Her mother was over seven months pregnant when she went to Planned Parenthood to have a saline abortion.
"What the masses don't realize is that the abortion industry is money-driven," she stressed. "So the later the stage of pregnancy, the more money is asked for abortion. In essence, what I'm saying is late-term abortions happen all the time."
Jessen miraculously survived the abortion that was meant to burn her from the inside out in her mother's womb. She came out with no singe marks but was born with Cerebral Palsy and was told she'd be nothing more than a vegetable.
In a cheerful tone and often laughing, Jessen said confidently, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. A doctor may say I can't move but God may say quite another thing."
Jessen recently completed two marathons on her toes.
"I just want to know that I make Him (God) smile. That's all," she said, noting that God spared her life and saved her soul.
As Jessen shared her testimony, Bereit reminded listeners that when you strip away all the theory and the rhetoric, saving the unborn is not just a political issue or a religious issue. "It's a human rights issue," he said.
One way to approach the issue is to ask a different question than "can we kill the unborn?"
Scott Klusendorf of Life Training Institute and author of The Case for Life, stated, "It comes down to the issue 'what is the unborn?'"
"Would anybody that we know, for example, suggest that you can kill a 2-year-old in the name of trusting the parents to make their own personal decisions?" he posed. "They only argue that way with abortion because they assume the unborn are not human.
"They don't argue for it. They assume it."
Equipping pro-lifers on how to defend the unborn, Klusendorf offered a couple of simple arguments.
Pro-lifers can argue scientifically that the unborn are distinct, living and whole human beings and not just part of a human being like skin cells. "They're whole living entities," he stressed.
"Philosophically, there's no relevant difference between that embryo you once were and the adult you are today that would justify killing you at that earlier stage of development."
Citing Stephen Schwarz who developed the SLED test, he noted, "Differences of size and level of development and environment and degree of dependency are not good reasons for saying you could be killed then but not now."
More than 30 organizations joined for the webcast conference. Audio from the day-long sessions are available at http://endingabortion.com/.