Wisconsin Pro-Life Advocates Submit Thousands of Petitions Against Abortion Plan
by Steven Ertelt
January 28, 2009
Madison, WI (LifeNews.com) — In an unprecedented move, several pro-life groups teamed up for a press conference on Tuesday where they submitted more than 20,000 petitions opposing a new plan by University of Wisconsin officials to begin doing abortions. The plan has UW doctors doing abortions at the Madison Surgery Center.
The groups don’t want to see UW Hospitals and Clinics, the UW Medical Foundation and Meriter Hospital opening up a second-trimester abortion facility.
They said the fallout of such a decision would have thousands of pro-life Wisconsin residents boycotting the hospitals and others being referred elsewhere by doctors who oppose the hospitals’ involvement in the procedure.
Dr. William Evans, a heart surgeon and clinic opponent who practices at Meriter Hospital, noted the potential backlash at the press conference.
"The collateral damage from this is worse than anyone expects," he said, according to the Madison newspaper.
He released a copy of a letter signed by himself and 12 other doctors who oppose the move to create the abortion center and who will actively oppose it if it is created.
"Today, this group of doctors declares we can be silent no more," he said. "Our vocation, our mandate, is to protect human life."
Julaine Appling of the Wisconsin Family Council said the pro-life groups came together and are "determined to send a clear message that such a plan will not happen on our watch without serious pushback and opposition."
The collection of pro-life groups also announced a Saturday rally taking place at noon on Library Mall on the UW-Madison campus that will be followed by a march to 1 S. Park St., site of the Madison Surgery Center where the abortion facility would be located.
UW Hospital spokeswoman Lisa Brunette confirmed to the newspaper that the UW Hospital and Clinics Authority Board will meet on February 4 to provide instructions for the hospital staff on the board of the Madison Surgery Center. The surgery center’s board must also approve the proposal and there is no scheduled date for that meeting.
Earlier this month, more than two dozen Wisconsin lawmakers signed a letter asking for the plan to be scrapped. The 28 Republican senators and representatives and one independent penned the letter to Hospital CEO Donna Katen-Bahensky.
The letter calls the idea to do second trimester abortions barbaric and asks Katen-Bahensky to prevent it from moving forward.
Brunette said the decision came about because a local abortion practitioner who did the second-trimester abortions recently retired.
"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.
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 LifeNews.com 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. Marys Hospital.
About 8,000 Wisconsin women get abortions every year and 18 percent came in the thirteenth week of pregnancy or later.
The Alliance Defense Fund, a pro-life law firm, informed LifeNews.com of the plan earlier this month after getting information from employees of the medical center who were unhappy after they learned of the idea.
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