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By Kathleen Gilbert

MADISON, Wisconsin, February 5, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) – After three hours of emotional debate, the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics Authority Board voted 11-3 Wednesday to offer 2nd-trimester abortions at a clinic owned by the University of Wisconsin (UW).

The decision to open the Madison Surgery Center to the abortions came amid a sizeable pro-life protest, with counter-protesters gathering outside the building in the bitter cold.  A rally of 2,000 had also gathered last Saturday at the UW campus, and marched to the surgery clinic to condemn the proposal.

Abortion advocates urged the UW facility, which apparently does not perform 1st-trimester abortions, to offer abortions at 13-22 weeks because of the recent departure of Planned Parenthood abortionist Dennis Christensen. Christensen left the Planned Parenthood abortion facility, located in Madison, in December, where he had been the city’s primary provider of such abortions, which typically require the child to be crushed and torn apart in a procedure known as dilation and evacuation. 

The final decision on the abortion proposal is expected from the Madison Surgery Center as early as this week.

Commenting on the vote, Chairman David Walsh said that Roe v. Wade granted women a “constitutional right” to kill their unborn child.

“The Roe vs. Wade decision has said that women have a constitutional right to make decisions about their body, and that’s right into the second trimester, and you can’t honor that constitutional right without offering the service,” said Walsh.

Three of the four anaesthesiologists at the surgery center are reported to have refused participation in any future abortions.

“We are appalled to learn that our publicly funded University of Wisconsin hospital and medical foundation is planning to directly participate in the dismemberment of second-trimester babies – babies that can suck their thumbs, turn somersaults in their mother’s wombs, and whose hearts are pumping gallons of blood every day,” said Peggy Hamill, director of Pro-Life Wisconsin.

State Senator Glenn Grothman, who is a UW alumnus, called the vote “unbelievable.”  “No other clinic in south central Wisconsin would touch something so barbaric,” he said.  “It is amazing every other medical facility in this region takes a pass on these barbaric procedures, but the UW says ‘The public be damned and the babies be damned – we’re going ahead!’” 

Some questions have been raised as to whether the human remains from the abortions would be used for research at the college.  According to a report by Madison’s Capital Times, Dr. Robert Golden, dean of the UW School of Medicine and Public Health, said they would not.  However, Dr. Todd Miller of Pro-Life Wisconsin said he was “skeptical,” and referred to UW research reports that thanked Planned Parenthood abortionist Christensen for his assistance. 

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