University of Wisconsin Stops Plan for Second-Term Abortions

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 14, 2010   |   12:32PM   |   Madison, WI

The University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics stopped a controversial plan to do second-trimester abortions at the Madison Surgery Center after ongoing protests from pro-life organizations.

Citing safety and privacy of patients as the main reason, officials made the announcement late Monday.

In February 2009, the Board of the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics approved a plan to create a second trimester abortion facility to be located at 1 S. Park St in Madison. The plan called for approximately 125 abortions annually on women whose unborn children are about 19 to 22 weeks along.

Doctors at UW decided to put the abortion business together after the retirement of Dennis Christensen, who had done the second trimester abortions at the Planned Parenthood center in Madison until he retired in December 2008.

UW Hospital, the UW Medical Foundation and Meriter Hospital were behind the plan but UW Health spokesperson Lisa Brunette said yesterday that UW Health is not going to do the abortions because of concerns about the protests by pro-life groups, which have been peaceful and legal. She also said UW is not seeking another location where abortions would be done.

“We want to make sure anyone going into that building is safe from harm and has their privacy respected,” Brunette said, according to the Badger Herald newspaper.

But Dr. Nancy Fredericks, an anesthesiologist at the surgery center, was one of the leading opponents of the idea and told the board that it would hurt the reputation of the center to do late-term abortions there.

Fredericks said three of the four anesthesiologists at the surgery center will not take part in the abortions, which would have made it difficult to facilitate them.

Pro Life Wisconsin said the announcement confirms what her group believed earlier this year was a backing off of the plan to do the second-trimester abortions.

“UW’s statement validates what we have suspected for a year,” said Peggy Hamill, state director of Pro-Life Wisconsin in comments to “As 2010 draws to a close, we thank God for concluding this horrifying chapter in the ongoing struggle with UW’s commitment to abortion.”

“We applaud the pro-life medical staff of the Madison Surgery Center who spoke in public opposition to this plan,” Hamill continued. “Wisconsin already has one late-term abortion facility in Milwaukee, killing viable babies. Wisconsinites oppose dragging our publicly-funded state university even further into the abortion business.”

Since the late-term abortion plan was announced in January 2009, Pro-Life Wisconsin, Wisconsin Right to Life and other pro-life groups have countless prayer vigils, attended by thousands; aired hundreds of pro-life television commercials in the Madison area; tens of thousands of people signed a pro-life petition; and hundreds boycotted the Madison Surgery Center.

“Pro-life grassroots activism works,” Hamill concluded. [related]

NARALs Wisconsin chapter spokesperson Lisa Subeck told the Badger Herald she is disappointed by the decision.

“Clearly women are seeking abortions after the 18th week,” Subeck said. “It’s particularly devastating to think these women…will not have access to the service.”

About 8,200 Wisconsin women get abortions every year and 9 percent came in the sixteenth week of pregnancy or later.