University of Wisconsin Plan to Do Abortions Meets Huge Pro-Life Criticism

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 6, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

University of Wisconsin Plan to Do Abortions Meets Huge Pro-Life Criticism

by Steven Ertelt Editor
January 6
, 2009

Madison, WI ( — The University of Wisconsin is coming under heavy criticism today from pro-life advocates who are not happy with a UW Health plan to do abortions. Because no abortion business in Madison does abortions into the second trimester, a group of UW Health physicians have banded together to do them.

UW Health spokeswoman Lisa Brunette told the Capital Times, "The physicians involved believe this is part of a comprehensive plan of care for reproductive health."

"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," she said.

If the doctors follow through on their plan, they will do abortions at the Madison Surgery Center, which is a joint center sponsored by UW Health and Meriter Hospital.

The center’s board would have to sign off on the abortion plan and the pro-life law firm Alliance Defense Fund sent it a letter today asking that it reject doing abortions, calling the idea "secret and potentially illegal."

"Many Madison Surgery Center employees believe that turning their workplace into an abortion facility will severely upset regular patients, disrupt the respected surgical practice that currently occurs there, [and] decimate employee morale," ADF attorney Matt Bowman said.

ADF is also concerned that the plan could compel unwilling employees to aid or participate in abortions, which would violate their religious conscience rights and may constitute an unlawful state funding of abortion.

“Christians and other pro-life medical students and staff should be allowed to abide by their beliefs,” Bowman told “Pro-life employees shouldn’t be forced to violate their conscience by participating in the killing of preborn, developed babies. The university’s plan is morally and legally flawed and should be abandoned.”

Brunette promised that no employee with any religious or moral objections would be pressured to participate in abortions.

Bowman said he is also worried that University of Wisconsin medical residents would be expected to train and take part in the killing of the second-trimester babies as part of the medical curriculum.

Bowman said the idea to do abortions is an expansion on the research UWHC already does on body parts from babies killed in abortions.

ADF sent its letter to UWHC President and CEO Donna Katen-Bahensky, as well as to the presidents of Meriter and the UW Medical Foundation

It says that penalties against any employee who refuses to recommend, aid, or perform abortions based on religious or moral objections is a blatant violation of state and federal law.

It also reminds university leadership of the fact that “no state or federal funds from various sources may be used for a program that…provides, encourages, or refers for abortions” and that ADF is prepared to take decisive legal action if UWHC takes any negative action against its pro-life employees.

Brunette also promised that state funds would not be used to pay for abortions and that anyone getting an abortion would pay for it themselves or through health insurance.

She would not publicly name the physicians involved in the new abortion plan, but learned that UW Health physician Caryn R. Dutton, of the Obstetrics and Gynecology department, will do the late-term abortions.

Dutton is also affiliated with Meriter Hospital and St. Mary’s Hospital.

About 8,000 Wisconsin women get abortions every year.

ACTION: Contract the Madison Surgery Center at or [email protected] and urge strong opposition to the new plan to do abortions.

Also contact Donna Katen-Bahensky, President and CEO, UW Hospital and Clinics at (608) 263-6400, Jeffrey Grossman, MD, President and CEO, UW Medical Foundation at (608) 263-7013, and Jim Woodward, President and CEO, Meriter Hospital at (608) 417-6000.

Alliance Defense Fund –
ADF letter –

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