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Stories of unplanned pregnancies provide hope

Lucette Moramarco

Associate Editor

The hall at Zion Lutheran Church was filled with 340 people for Hope Clinic for Women's 18th annual Inspiring Hope Gala, March 17. The dinner fundraiser featured three guest speakers who each provided a different look into the effects of unplanned pregnancies.

After a pasta dinner provided by Faro Trupiano, HCW Executive Director Carolyn Koole reported on the services the clinic has been providing over the last three years. Their primary medical license was earned during the coronavirus pandemic, during which the clinic remained open to serve clients. In 2022, a third day was added to the clinic's weekly hours of service.

Koole said that their goal for the gala was to raise $100,000 to purchase a new portable ultrasound machine, to pay to be open an additional day each week, and to fund their new Fatherhood Program.

The first guest speaker, Ernie Gollehon, worked as a correctional officer for 30 years before retiring and volunteering as the Men's Ministry Coordinator at Bakersfield Pregnancy Center. He said he tells the men who bring their pregnant wives or girlfriends to the center, "you're not an Uber driver; you are important...the father relationship is important."

He believes many of the men in prison are there because their father wasn't there (for them) when they were growing up. At the pregnancy center, he teaches men how to diaper a baby (using dolls) as it is a skill to "bond with their son or daughter." Gollehon tells them to hold a baby like they hold a football.

He then invited any men interested in finding out more about the men's ministry to meet at Denny's, 8 a.m. the next morning to learn how to be a coach. Koole said that they have a group that has met twice already, and they get a free breakfast.

Next, Hope Clinic Program Services Director Erika Luis-Chavez introduced Mireya, a HCW client, who told her story of having her daughter who was born six weeks prematurely with an abnormal heart and lungs, a little over two years ago. Isabella had open heart surgery at 12 days old; Mireya did not have support at home and went to HCW for help.

She said she is a better parent because of HCW where she restored faith in herself and God. She gets "me time" there which is very helpful; she added, "I appreciate what Hope Clinic has done for me."

Luis-Chavez said that their client advocates "give our moms hope" by mentoring them for three hours a week. More volunteers are always needed for new clients; anyone interested in helping can call 760-728-4105.

Master of Ceremonies Ken Follis introduced the main speaker, Dr. Anthony Levatino. A former doctor, Levatino performed first and second trimester abortions in upstate New York while remaining "morally neutral," he said. He made $2,000 in 15 minutes doing each procedure. At the same time, his wife was diagnosed with an infertility problem; "she can't get pregnant and her husband is killing babies," Levatino said, noting the irony.

During their struggle to adopt a baby, he realized that there are few babies available for adoption because of abortion. After months of frustration, a colleague let him know that a teenager was giving her baby up for adoption. A month after Levitano and his wife adopted the baby girl in 1978, she finally got pregnant. Their son was born 10 months after their daughter.

After that, Levatino went back to business as usual, training to do late term abortions which involved dismemberment of the baby using forceps (grasping and pulling off limbs for removal). He performed 1200 of those abortions in four years.

In 1984, his daughter was hit by a car in front of their house; she died in her parents arms in the ambulance. Sometime later, he said, he was in the middle of a second trimester abortion when he pulled out an arm or a leg, stared at it and got sick.

"For the first time, I really looked at the pile of body parts on the table and saw somebody's son or daughter," Levatino explained, adding that it was part of the crisis that almost ended his marriage (his wife, a nurse, has always been pro life). As a result, he decided to only do early term abortions which he did for several months, until a change occurred that he couldn't take back.

He "had realized that killing a baby is wrong," he said. In February 1985, he quit doing abortions, but "be pro life, never, they're kooks," he added. That belief changed when he went to a pro life group's potluck dinner and he found out that they weren't kooks; they understood medicine and law and impressed him, so he and his wife joined the group. In 1990, he left the medical practice and went to law school.

Levatino now lives in Central Arizona and travels the country telling his story which is "not easy to tell but all true."

After the event, Koole said, "At Hope Clinic for Women our hearts are saddened by the loss of life in abortion and the short and long term impact of this on their mothers. The one thing I would add is the strong response we have received from men. They have a new found compassion for men impacted by abortion, whether it be the conflicted doctor performing it or the man experiencing the outcome of it in their partner's life and their own. All need a place where they are free to share their feelings and find confidential support and healing.

"Hope Clinic for Women is that safe place. The Gala was the best attended event I have seen since I came to Hope with a wide range in those attending from age 14 to those in their 90's. Wonderful food, great friends, and a remarkable speaker, the makings of an amazing Gala," she added.

To date, donations made that night total $92,891 and HCW now has 31 new monthly donors who in total committed $39,180. For more information about the services available and volunteer opportunities at HCW, visit


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