By Kathleen Gilbert
MADISON, Wisconsin, May 5, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Pro-Life Wisconsin (PLW), through the Alliance Defense Fund, announced Wednesday that they have received official confirmation from the Wisconsin Attorney General’s office that the Madison Surgery Center (MSC) has abandoned its plans to perform late-term abortions.
“We give credit first and foremost to God for this pro-life victory,” said Peggy Hamill, state director of Pro-Life Wisconsin, in a statement Wednesday. “Pro-life grassroots activism works. We have held countless prayer vigils, attended by thousands; aired hundreds of pro-life television commercials in the Madison area; tens of thousands of people signed our pro-life petition; and hundreds boycotted the Madison Surgery Center. We have maintained a daily prayer presence outside the MSC, and our NoUWabortions.com website has served as a virtual hub of resistance.”
The Madison Surgery Center board voted to allow late-term abortions at a February 2009 meeting. The Madison Surgery Center is a joint partnership between Meriter Hospital, the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics and the University of Wisconsin Medical Foundation.
Following the decision, officials were bombarded by pro-life outrage from across the country. 2,000 pro-lifers rallied in protest only days after the decision, and in January, over 20,000 pro-lifers signed a petition delivered to officials condemning the plan. The decision also incited an advertising campaign opposing it.
In January, documents obtained by Pro-Life Wisconsin and the Alliance Defense Fund via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request raised serious concerns that the late-term abortion setup was designed to supply the school's medical researchers with fresh fetal body parts for experimentation.
Assistant Attorney General Kevin Potter, in a letter to an Eau Claire attorney, stated, “We have also been in contact with legal counsel for the University of Wisconsin (UW) to determine how the proposed services would be provided. We have been awaiting response from the UW on the final plans before replying to your letter. It is my understanding based on recent information from the UW that they have now abandoned plans to provide late-term abortion services at MSC.” (Click here to read the letter.)
“We are happy to announce that our boycott of the Madison Surgery Center has ended, and we applaud the pro-life medical staff of the Madison Surgery Center who spoke in public opposition to this senseless plan,” said Virginia Zignego, Pro-Life Wisconsin communications director and a UW-Madison graduate. “When we kill babies, it is a failure of our health care system and a failure of our intellects. When we kill babies it is a sign that consciences are dead. When consciences are dead, there is no limit to what we will do.”
Matt Sande, legislative director for Pro-Life Wisconsin, told LifeSiteNews.com that the turnaround was due to the co-ordinated, multi-faceted approach of the pro-life effort.
After Pro-Life Wisconsin exposed the project that the center was "obviously trying to keep secret," said Sande, "that rocked them back on their heels right away, I think, from day one: they knew that the pro-life community wasn't going to tolerate a late-term abortion plan - and in downtown Madison, in their state-of-the-art surgery center."
Sande mentioned that a boycott sponsored by PLW, in which several families abandoned the Madison Surgery Center and switched their insurance away from the UW Health insurance, put even more pressure on the abortion advocates. "We know from the doctors inside the facilities ... that they were losing patients, and that was having an economic impact," said Sande, "that had a strong influence on their decision not to go ahead."
Sande warned that "the other side is very tenacious, and this is just one battle." "I'm sure that they will continue to find, to search for a location, a physician, to accomplish this plan - and obviously we're ever-vigilant," he said. The local pro-abortion lobby reportedly urged the Center to adopt the plan after Dennis Christensen, the primary provider of late-term abortions in Madison, left the area.
Nonetheless, Sande concluded that "Ultimately, this is an answer to prayer. We give all the glory to God."
"This is a great pro-life victory that He has achieved," he said. "Today, May 5, this is a day of celebration. We are declaring victory over this plan."