Committee Action Means No More Late-Term Abortion Plans at Any University of Wisconsin Medical Facility

By Dave Andrusko

On Saturday I was looking up something for my wife to help her complete National Right to Life’s Annual Yearbook when I saw on Facebook that Wisconsin Right to Life had won an important substantive and symbolic victory.  On WRTL’s Facebook account I read,

“Great victory! At 11:00pm [Friday night], the Joint Finance Committee voted to prevent the University of Wisconsin from paying med students to learn to perform abortions. UW will no longer be able to participate in abortions including the late-term abortion plan it tried to install. Wonderful news for babies and mothers! And you as taxpayers!”

WRTL then distributed a press release that filled in more details.

Wisconsin State Senator Glenn Grothman

Wisconsin Right to Life is praising action on June 3rd by the Joint Finance Committee that prohibits the University of Wisconsin (UW) Hospitals and Clinics Authority Board from paying physicians or surgeons or a hospital, clinic or other medical facility for the performance of an abortion except as specified in Wisconsin’s current abortion-funding law.

The budget motion was offered by Senator Glenn Grothman and Representative Dan LeMahieu and passed on a vote of 12-4.  All Republican members of the committee voted for the motion with all Democrat members voting against the measure.  Representative Andre Jacque played a key leadership role in the development of the motion.

“Wisconsin Right to Life is deeply appreciative to the Joint Finance Committee for insuring that no UW funds will be used for the performance of abortions in any UW facility,” said Susan Armacost, Legislative Director of Wisconsin Right to Life. “We remember only too well the brazen attempts of UW a couple of years ago to set up a late-term abortion facility at the Madison Surgery Center.  It was only because a huge outcry by the public and many employees of the Madison Surgery Center that UW finally backed down and nixed the deadly project.  The motion passed on June 3 means that the UW Hospitals and Clinics Authority Board will no longer be able to plot behind the scenes to find ways to use taxpayer dollars to pay doctors and facilities to perform abortions.”

Armacost was referring to the December 2010, decision by the University of Wisconsin Hospital, the UW Medical Foundation, and Meriter Hospital not to offer second trimester abortions at the Madison Surgery Center or to seek an alternative site. As we wrote at the time.

“Wisconsin Right to Life has vigorously fought the plan since its inception,” Armacost said, adding, “We are thankful that there will be no second-trimester abortion facility at the Madison Surgery Center or at any University of Wisconsin facility.”

Armacost explained that many Madison Surgery center employees, numerous patients, and Wisconsin citizens, had spoken out in opposition. “They are to be commended,” she said. “This is a tremendous victory for unborn children.”

UW Health spokesperson Lisa Brunette confirmed with the Badger Herald that “UW Health is not currently looking for another location that would be safer for patients and does not have plans to look in the future.”

Plans to perform second-trimester abortions at the Madison Surgery Center were approved in February 2009 by the University of Wisconsin Hospital, the University of Wisconsin Medical Foundation, and Meriter Hospital. But in a letter issued Monday, the organizations backed off.

The impetus for the original decision to go ahead was the retirement of abortionist Dennis Christensen in December 2008. According to Wisconsin RTL “Christensen told a Michigan court in the late 1990s that he had performed 60,000 abortions in his career at that time, with 9,000 of them beyond the first trimester. Christensen performed abortions up to 24 weeks (six months) of pregnancy.”

At the time of the 2009 decision, the Madison Surgery Center provided 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,” Armacost told NRL News at the time. “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.”

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