Covert plan to create late-term abortion program in Wis. ends after exposure by ADF and allies

Univ. of Wis. Hospitals halts program that would have threatened religious conscience rights, might misuse state funds
Wednesday, May 05, 2010

MADISON, Wis. — The Alliance Defense Fund obtained a letter Friday from the Wisconsin Department of Justice stating that the University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics has abandoned its plans to provide full-service, second-trimester abortion services in a jointly operated facility.

ADF attorneys sent a letter last year to UWHC urging it to cease it plans for the program, which posed a threat to the religious conscience rights of pro-life employees by potentially requiring them to participate in dismembering preborn children. The letter also pointed out that such a program may constitute an unlawful state funding of abortion. A few months later, ADF sent another letter to involved officials regarding a memo they had distributed to employees that said employees would sometimes be forced to assist in the dangerous abortions.

“Christians and other pro-life medical students and staff shouldn’t be forced to compromise their beliefs to maintain their positions,” said ADF Legal Counsel Matt Bowman. “The UWHC and other medical facilities involved made the right decision to terminate this covert program, which threatened to require pro-life employees to violate their consciences by participating in the killing of preborn, developed babies.”

In January 2009, ADF uncovered UWHC plans to create a full-service, second-trimester abortion practice at the Madison Surgery Center--a joint venture of UWHC, UW Medical Foundation, and Meriter Hospital. The University of Wisconsin would have sent medical residents to train and take part in the killing of the second-trimester babies. In recent years, UWHC researchers have experimented on almost fully-formed body parts obtained from second-trimester abortions performed nearby, and if the new practice were implemented, those abortions would have been performed under UWHC’s joint venture. The plan would have also included the abortion of disabled babies, which already occurs at Meriter Hospital.

At that time, ADF sent its first letter to the presidents of UWHC, Meriter Hospital, and the UW Medical Foundation, explaining that penalties against any employee who refuses to recommend, aid, or perform abortions based on religious or moral objections would be a blatant violation of state and federal law. It also reminded university and hospital leadership of the fact that “no state or federal funds from various sources may be used for a program that...provides, encourages, or refers for abortions” and that ADF was prepared to take decisive legal action if UWHC took any negative action against its pro-life employees.

ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.