NRL News
Page 20
February 2009
Volume 36
Issue 2

Wisconsin Health Clinic May Become Site of Second-Trimester Abortions; Pro-Lifers Vow to Continue Fight
By Liz Townsend

To the outrage of many, Madison Surgery Center, an outpatient health clinic in Madison, Wisconsin, is one step closer to aborting unborn babies between 19 and 22 weeks. The board of the University of Wisconsin (UW) Hospital and Clinics, part of a group that administers Madison Surgery Center, decided on an 11–3 vote February 4 to bring abortions to the clinic, according to the Associated Press.

The center currently provides services such as ophthalmology, gastroenterology, and general surgery but not abortion, according to its web site. “Imagine that you are a patient sent to the Madison Surgery Center for an outpatient procedure,” said Wisconsin Right to Life Legislative Director Susan Armacost. “The medical professionals that are seeing you are working to restore you to full health while right down the hall, other ‘professionals’ are dismembering fully formed babies. The proposed late-term abortion plan, if approved, would be a blight on what should be the life-saving, not life-taking work of medical professionals and facilities.”

The proposal was offered after the longtime abortionist at Madison Abortion Clinic, Dennis Christensen, retired in December, the AP reported. Christensen was the only abortionist in Madison that would perform abortions on older babies.

According to the AP, Planned Parenthood took over Madison Abortion Clinic after Christensen left, and will abort babies up to 18 weeks. Since Planned Parenthood would only refer women to a clinic in Milwaukee for abortions later than that, UW Health doctors decided that older babies should be aborted closer to home in Madison-- Madison Surgery Center.

“The physicians involved believe this is part of a comprehensive plan of care for reproductive health,” said UW Health spokeswoman Lisa Brunette, according to the Capital Times. “Right now there is no clinic in the area that provides that type of termination and the physicians involved believe there is a public health responsibility to provide them, so they wish to move forward.”

Dr. Laurel Rice, chair of obstetrics and gynecology at UW, estimated that about 125 second-trimester abortions would occur each year at the center, Wisconsin State Journal reported.

However, the plan still has to be approved by other governing boards, and pro-lifers will continue their campaign of protests and petitions that began when the proposal was announced last month. They have already gathered 20,000 petition signatures condemning the plan.

“On every front, the right-to-life community in Wisconsin is not going to stand by and let the ‘prestigious’ medical community in Madison set up a full service second-trimester abortion facility within the Madison Surgery Center,” said Armacost. “We have only begun the battle to prevent this horrendous plan from becoming a reality.”

The Madison Surgery Center is jointly managed by the UW Hospital and Clinics, Meriter Hospital, and the UW Medical Foundation, which are all part of the system called UW Health. Many employees at the center oppose the plan, according to testimony at the board meeting.

Dr. Nancy Fredericks said that three out of four of her fellow anesthesiologists have stated that they will not participate in abortions, the AP reported. “Morale is now at an all-time low because many of the staff have been tormented by the thought of these abortions being done at their facility,” she told the board.