By Stephen Lahood —
There’s a reason the doctor of Unplanned delivers a compelling performance as the cold-hearted abortionist. “Beam me up, Scotty,” he deadpans, sucking the baby out of the womb with a surgical vacuum and into the sterile jar on the table.
The reason why Anthony Levatino — who is not an actor — acted the part so well is that he once was an abortionist.
Today, Dr. Levantino has repented of performing 1,200 abortions in his past. His change of heart came after his daughter was killed in a car accident in front of his own house. He started thinking about how he was essentially doing what the car did to his daughter.
Snuffing out innocent life.
“You start to realize this is somebody’s child. I lost my child, someone who was very precious to us,” he recalls on Live Action. “And now I am taking somebody’s child and I am tearing him right out of their womb. I am killing somebody’s child.
“I began to feel like a paid assassin. That’s exactly what I was.”
Levantino believed the propaganda: he was helping a woman in crisis with her life. But if he was really honest, what he really liked was the money. For a 15-minute procedure, he pocketed $800, he now says. He killed 3-5 every morning.
But the change of heart originated in his own marriage. Dr. Levantino and his wife struggled to have a child due to fertility problems. Their frustration led them to adopt a beautiful girl they named Heather in 1978.
As sometimes happens, as soon as they adopted, they were suddenly blessed with pregnancy, so that Dr. Levantino and his wife had two children.
On June 23, 1984, an accident in front of his house led to the death of Heather. She was hit but a moving car.
After a time of grieving, he returned to work. But he began to see parallels that unsettled him. As he ended the life of the fetus, he couldn’t help but remember the life of his daughter ending prematurely. The thought didn’t pass; it grew.
Eventually he sought counseling. He was told to only do abortions in the first trimester. It was thought that if he couldn’t see the well-developed body parts, perhaps it wouldn’t bother him.
But that strategy didn’t work. It was a separate human life, not the mother’s body, as the propaganda purported, and he as a doctor knew it better than anyone.
“My own sense of self-esteem went down the tubes,” he recalled to CBN. “You watch the movies when somebody goes up to somebody, pays them some money to kill somebody. That’s exactly what I was doing.
“Once you figure out that killing a baby the size of your hand for money is wrong, then it doesn’t take you too long to figure out that it doesn’t matter how big, it’s still her son or daughter.”
He quit abortions and began working as a regular doctor — giving life, not taking it.
He opened a pregnancy center in Las Cruces to help conflicted women decide in favor of life, in favor of adoption over murder. He has testified before Congress about the horrific reality of abortion.
When Unplanned was in the formative stage of development, Director Cary Solomon wanted to cast Dr. Levatino as the abortionist.
Dr. Levantino had serious misgivings for one simple reason: he wasn’t an actor.
But the director encouraged him to play the part. He wouldn’t have to act. He would just have to do what he used to do as an abortionist.
And that’s what he did. The result was a hyper-realistic portrayal of what actually goes on behind closed doors, behind the political speak and slogans touting “women’s rights.” The reason why Dr. Levatino comes off so cold is because… there’s no other way to portray it.
Steven Lahood studies at the Lighthouse Christian Academy in Los Angeles.