The University of Wisconsin Health Center Authority Board voted 11 to 3 to offer abortions to women up to the 22nd week of pregnancy at a hearing this week. The university decided to consider offering the procedure after learning that the only area provider who offered abortions up to the 22nd week of pregnancy retired, according to Channel 3000. The surgery center’s board must give final approval for the change.
According to the Associated Press, during the hearing Board Chairman David Walsh said that “is there another place to [obtain second trimester abortions]? If there isn’t, what’s our responsibility as a great institution to provide full medical care? That’s where I turn on my decision. I feel we have to go ahead and approve this because we have that responsibility. We can’t be part of a conspiracy to deny a constitutional right.”
The University’s decision has been the subject of much local debate. A number of employees at the medical center oppose the decision and reportedly will not participate in the procedures. Several groups have publicly opposed and protested the decision. The Alliance Defense Fund, a conservative Christian group based out of Arizona, have expressed concern that the university will violate state law that prohibits the use of state or federal money to fund abortions, according to the Canadian Press. According to the University of Wisconsin, the procedures will be covered by insurance and patient fees.