Pro-life advocates say they have obtained documents that raise serious questions over the possibility of fetal harvesting and conscience violations behind the University of Wisconsin’s plans to begin performing late-term abortions at the Madison Surgery Center.
The Alliance Defense Fund and Pro-Life Wisconsin say that documents they obtained via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request illustrate the efforts of UW officials and abortionists over several years to add second-trimester abortions at MSC.
In addition, they say, certain communiqués raise fears that UW researchers could use the tissue of babies aborted at MSC for medical experimentation.
One such document reveals a UW-Madison study involved diabetic patients who received transplants of fetal pancreatic tissue “obtained from medical facilities where legal abortions are carried out.” Pro-life advocates fear that medical researchers would be tempted to resort to “in-house” aborted fetal material that would be far cheaper than obtaining it from other areas.
The Madison Surgery Center is a joint venture between UW Hospital and Clinics (UWHC), Meriter Hospital and the UW Medical Foundation (UWMF). Officials in charge of the project planned to take up the second trimester abortion business in Madison at the same time a Planned Parenthood abortionist specializing in the practice was retiring.
The Associated Press reports it obtained a detailed PowerPoint presentation developed by two UW doctors promoting the plan. One slide is stamped with a UW logo and titled “Benefits,” with “increased departmental revenue” at the top of the list.
FOIA e-mails indicate that supporters took pains to keep the project low key for as long as possible. One November 2008 email from MSC Administrative Director Cheryl Wilson to the UWMF’s Peter Christman revealed that they changed the location for discussing their plans to expand abortion access “so MSC staff did not see us meeting and inquire about the reason for the meeting.”
The documents are also alleged to show that Caryn Dutton and Laurel Rice, both employees of UW School of Medicine – Rice is Chairwoman of the Ob/Gyn Dept – and Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, led the charge to transform the surgical center into an abortion clinic.
Rice sent a letter to the Planned Parenthood Consortium of Abortion Providers stating, “The provision of abortion care is so central to my commitment to health care and leadership in the department, I will personally start to provide abortion care at PPWI’s comprehensive center one day a month beginning November 1, 2008. And I am excited to do so.”
The letter, however, used the official UW letterhead – alarming Elizabeth Bolt, Associate Dean for Administrative Affairs UW School of Medicine, because it appeared to veer dangerously toward expending university resources to support abortion.
“I don’t want this letter to cause the legislature to scrutinize this area more closely or even worse, expand the statute,” Bolt is quoted as writing. “Right now, I think we’ve found a way to provide this training within the boundaries of the statute and I don’t want to jeopardize that.”
Dutton, who is a UW Ob-gyn physician and an associate medical director for PPWI’s board of directors, intends to start performing the late term abortions. MSC paid for Dutton and two associates to take a December 2008 trip to the University of North Carolina to learn how they carry out late-term abortions.
Although MSC got the go-ahead from the relevant boards of directors to start performing second trimester abortions as of February 2009, none have been reported as yet. Crowds of local pro-lifers have repeatedly demonstrated against the arrangement since its inception.
Part of the delay may be due to as yet unanswered questions regarding the separation of public and private funds when it comes to the abortions. Current provisions in federal and Wisconsin law prohibit taxpayer funding being involved with abortions, but pro-life advocates want to make sure that no public funds end up diverted to support UW’s intended abortion business.
ADF has demanded that UW officials released detailed explanations that outline precisely how public money will not be involved in the abortion scheme. The group is also concerned that the conscience rights of medical professionals objecting to abortion would be jeopardized by having MSC performing abortions.
“We will not remain silent while the University of Wisconsin and Meriter Hospital leaders publicly sanction the senseless killing of the most vulnerable members of the human family,” said Peggy Hamill, state director of Pro-Life Wisconsin. “Until the blood stops flowing, these institutions can be assured pro-lifers will stand up for innocent preborn babies.”
Virginia Zignego, Pro-Life Wisconsin communications director and a UW-Madison graduate, said that Pro-Life Wisconsin plans to continue “opposing the MSC’s late-term abortion plan, through peaceful prayer rallies, TV commercials, education and raising public awareness.”
As part of that effort, a Saturday, Feb. 6 rally and march organized by Pro-Life Wisconsin and Vigil for Life of Madison will protest the Madison Surgery Center’s year-old decision to provide late-term abortions. The protest will begin at noon and be joined by New York pro-life leader Chris Slattery of Expectant Mother Care, and will meet at the UW-Madison campus, by the Library Mall, 700 block of State St.