University of Wisconsin Chancellor Biddy Martin told The Badger Herald Thursday she stands by her decision to support the proposed second-trimester abortion clinic at Madison Surgery Center.
Martin voted in favor of the clinic at the UW Hospital and Clinics Authority Board meeting Wednesday, where the board supported the proposal in an 11-3 vote.
“I thought it was the right decision yesterday and I think so today,” Martin said. “My strongest overriding feeling is that it’s a very complicated, difficult issue, and the way it played out was the right way.”
Board Chair David Walsh, who also voted in favor of the proposal, said it is important the board maintain its support for the clinic because of the hospital’s commitment to public health.
“We are a public university. We serve the public. We are an academic medical hospital. It is our job to provide comprehensive care, and that includes providing services that are not available other places. This includes the constitutional right of women to control their bodies,” Walsh said.
Wednesday’s meeting was open to the public, where citizens and several special interest groups were invited to speak before the board.
Some attendees expressed concern that the board had made its decision prior to hearing testimonies, but Walsh said no discussion of the issue occurred before the meeting.
“We had an open meeting,” Walsh said. “It was transparent. We listened to people. We discussed things, and there was constructive dialogue. It’s important that these things are discussed and that people have a chance to talk about it.”
He added the board does not do those sorts of things, and it is no different than when the UW opens its classrooms to controversial thought.
“It’s part of the learning process,” Walsh said.
Martin’s vote, which she said is meant to represent the university as a whole, has many anti-abortion alumni concerned UW’s reputation is permanently tarnished.
Sen. Glenn Grothman, R-West Bend, who testified at the meeting, went so far as to say the board and Martin’s vote put UW’s “good name on murder.”
“Biddy Martin … will be forever remembered as the woman who caused the university to do something that no other clinic in central Wisconsin would do … and that is kill a baby five months [after] conception,” Grothman told The Badger Herald Wednesday.
Martin declined to respond to Grothman’s charge but said Walsh’s reasons for supporting the clinic are appropriate.
The board’s decision is the third of four major votes the proposed clinic must earn before moving forward. Meriter Hospital and UWHC’s doctor groups have already voted in favor of the plan.
The Madison Surgery Center’s board is expected to make a final decision on the issue in a closed meeting as early as this week. Their support is the final step for the clinic to gain complete approval from those governing its operations.
Board members Pablo Sanchez, Patrick Boyle and Humberto Vidaillet, who opposed the proposal, could not be reached for comment as of press time.
–Taylor Cox contributed to this report.