UW Halting Efforts to Provide Abortion Clinic Due to "Safety Concerns"‏

by Shaker adrienne_again, a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

[Trigger warning for anti-choice terrorism. Please also note that the comment sections of externally linked pieces are not safe spaces.]

On my way to class this morning, a headline on the front page of one of our campus newspapers, The Badger Herald, caught my eye:
UW to stop efforts on abortion services: Madison Surgery Center's clinic halts attempts to offer second-trimester procedures due to safety concerns
At first I thought the "safety concerns" had to do with the procedure itself, but I should have known better. The article goes on:
The main reason UW Health is no longer working to offer these services at MSC is to make sure all patients entering the clinic, regardless of what they are at MSC for, are not harmed by activists, [UW Health spokesperson Lisa Brunette] said.

"We want to make sure anyone going into that building is safe from harm and has their privacy respected," Brunette said.
According to another article The Badger Herald published last year, the Madison Surgery Center was hoping to fill the gap in local services left by the retirement, in 2008, of the only doctor in Madison who provided second-trimester abortions.

So basically, anti-choice "activists" have succeeded in using fear and intimidation to eliminate this community's access to a legal medical procedure. As the Herald article reports, "Pro Life Wisconsin spokesperson Virginia Zignego said the announcement […] proves grassroots anti-abortion activism works."

I put "activists" in quotes because there is a point at which activism becomes terrorism. There are many laws in this country that I would like to see changed, and practices that I would like to see abolished, but I would not support the use of violence or physical intimidation to achieve those goals. This success on the part of anti-choice terrorists is part of what Liss has called "a decades-long campaign of intimidation, harassment and violence directed at abortion providers and abortion seekers."

I felt I had to reach out to the Shakesville community on this topic in part because I don't know how to talk to people in my local community about it. Upon finishing the article, I had to share my anger and frustration with someone—I had the urge to wave the newspaper in the air and exclaim to the people all around me, "Can you BELIEVE this?!"—but I was worried that if I brought it up with my classmates or professor, the discussion would be clouded by debate over the legitimacy of the procedure itself.

(Which underscores how even the nature of the abortion debate has turned into a silencing tactic designed to intimidate people who don't want to debate the ethics of abortion.)

The legitimacy and/or legality of the procedure is not the issue here, for me; I understand both sides of that issue. The issue for me is why any compassionate person, no matter what they believe about abortion in general, and second-trimester abortions in particular, would fail to agree that we need a society in which people can make decisions for themselves and for their health without fear of violent repercussions—and that our medical professionals must be able to make decisions about what services to offer without having to worry whether the safety and privacy of their patients will be compromised by terrorists.

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