University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics halted efforts to offer second trimester abortions at the Madison Surgery Center, citing the safety and privacy of patients as the main reason, officials announced Monday.

An abortion clinic at the Madison Surgery Center, located at 1 N. Park Street, was approved in February 2009 by several patent boards, including the UW Hospital and Clinics Authority Board. The clinic would have been able to perform late-term abortions.

UW Health spokesperson Lisa Brunette said there was never a plan to offer late-term abortions at MSC, but rather “second trimester procedures,” which she said are not late-term abortions.

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, Brunette said.

“We want to make sure anyone going into that building is safe from harm and has their privacy respected,” Brunette said.

She added UW Health is not currently looking for another location that would be safer for patients and does not have plans to look in the future.

UW Chancellor Biddy Martin was one of the 11 board members who voted in favor of the proposal to set up the abortion clinic at MSC, further stirring up controversy over the decision.

The announcement comes after a letter surfaced last May from Wisconsin Attorney General Kevin Potter to attorney Karen Mueller, in which Potter said he believed MSC no longer planned to pursue performing late-term abortions.

Abortion-rights organizations sent out statements in response, but UW Health officials said the claims were false.

Pro Life Wisconsin spokesperson Virginia Zignego said the announcement confirms what the organization suspected in May and proves grassroots anti-abortion activism works.

NARAL Pro Choice Wisconsin spokesperson Lisa Subeck said the organization is disappointed with the decision, especially since UW has worked to ensure women receive the full range of reproductive health care in the community.

“Clearly women are seeking abortions after the 18th week,” Subeck said. “It’s particularly devastating to think these women…will not have access to the service.”

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