The nurse flipped off the light in the exam room, and the 11-week-old fetus leapt into view on the large wall monitor showing ultrasound images of the pregnant woman’s unborn child.
The baby’s heartbeat was loudly audible, thumping in a reassuring rhythm.
“That’s your baby’s heart beating with love for its mother,” said Paddy Jim Baggot, MD, to the 22-year-old woman.
An atypical remark, perhaps, from most OB/GYNs, but not Baggot, 57, an obstetrics, gynecology and infertility doctor who is the medical director at Guadalupe Medical Center in Los Angeles, founded by Mexican-born actor Eduardo Verástegui, star of the 2007 pro-life film “Bella.”
“[Verástegui] decided he wanted to do something about women and abortion, so he asked me to come here and help him start this clinic in 2009,” said Baggot, who met with The Tidings at the center a few hours after delivering a baby at 4:30 a.m. His patients are usually referrals from sidewalk counselors or crisis pregnancy centers in the area, including the Los Angeles Pregnancy Services center on nearby Seventh Street.
According to Baggot, LAPS refers most of the women counseled by its staff, including 360 pregnant women last year, to the Guadalupe Medical Center for ultrasounds. Baggot cares for many of them all the way through their pregnancy and delivery. Fees are generally paid through patients’ insurance or Medi-Cal.
“You could say that we are a 100 percent pro-life OB/GYN clinic and out of that, there are various things we do: abortion turn-arounds, tubal reversal, Catholic infertility and abortion reversal (for example, in RU-486 abortion pill cases which sometimes can be reversed with timely medical treatment).”
Baggot sees office patients during the week and usually delivers a baby every other day. He has performed at least ten tubal ligation reversal procedures, requiring a delicate two- to three-hour operation using a microscope to aid in reattaching the patient’s severed fallopian tubes.
A native of St. Louis, the oldest of 11 children born to devout Catholic parents who attended daily Mass, Baggot earned his medical degree at the University of Illinois in Chicago in 1982 and later trained as an OB/GYN. From 1996-98, he worked at the Pope Paul VI Institute in Omaha, where he “learned how to be a Catholic OB/GYN.”
He came to Los Angeles in 1999, where he worked for a year at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in maternal fetal medicine. He also worked as an OB/GYN at Santa Teresita in Duarte and, later, in private practice until he joined the Guadalupe Medical Center. He is well known to local pro-life activists, and has taught natural family planning classes to Holy Family parishioners in Glendale.
In fact, in was on a trip to Manila in 2004 to teach natural family planning to medical professionals that he met his wife, Rocel, an OB/GYN who was assisting in the training. They have two children, a six-year-old attending All Souls School in Alhambra and a four-year-old.
Baggot enjoys his vocation of pro-life doctor, in an environment where parents’ love for their unborn children is nurtured and prayer is not off-limits. Signs in the exam rooms assure patients: “If you need a moment for prayer or to yourself, ask for our chapel,” filled with chairs facing an altar and a large, framed image of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
“Those who decide to keep their babies are the happiest patients of all,” reflected Baggot.
The Guadalupe Medical Center is located at 3020 Wilshire Blvd., suite 219, in Los Angeles; (213) 386-2606.