Friday, February 06, 2009

"Since the service isn't available, you have to step up,"

So says David Walsh, chairman of the Board of Regents and member of the UW Hospital Foundation Board, about the decision to offer second trimester abortions at a clinic owned, in part, by UW Hospital and Clinics and the UW Medical Foundation. The Supreme Court has created an unfettered right to second trimester abortions so this UW affiliated entity has to provide them.

No, it doesn't.

That you have a constitutional right to something does not mean that I have to provide it. Although presumably private insurers or patients will pay for the abortions and the doctors who perform them are on the state payroll, their compensation for doing so will come from a private source. But, of course, there is more to it than that. These doctors will be using what is, at least in part, state funded infrastructure and support staff.

The proposal may violate the law. Pursuant to WIS. STAT. § 20.927, no funds of the state or of any state agency may be paid to either an physician, surgeon, hospital, clinic or other medical facility for the performance of an abortion. Under WIS. STAT. § 20.9275, no state or federal funds from various sources may be used for a program that either provides, encourages, or refers for abortions.

The UW claims that state funds won't "directly" subsidize abortions but the statutory language is rather broad and its not clear that the provision of abortions that do not fall within certain statutory exceptions in a clinic that operates, at least in part, with state funds won't run afoul of the statute.

Beyond that, it seems to me that the same moral misgivings that make it almost impossible to find a doctor that will do these suggest that the state ought not to undertake them in our name.

27 comments:

Dad29 said...

Walsh's continuing quest to "remove all doubt" by simply opening his mouth...

IS A SUCCESS!!

Anonymous said...

Very good post and there would not be any facility if it wasn't State funded.

Clutch said...

"Pursuant to WIS. STAT. § 20.927, no funds of the state or of any state agency may be paid to either an physician, surgeon, hospital, clinic or other medical facility for the performance of an abortion. Under WIS. STAT. § 20.9275, no state or federal funds from various sources may be used for a program that either provides, encourages, or refers for abortions."

Wow. I had no idea that Wisconsin was that messed up.

Anonymous said...

Rick, you are lawyering around the point. You are correct that the existence of a constitutional right does not require its exercise.

But, second trimester abortion is not an abstraction, its a medical procedure. And while there is heated debated about the moral issue, it is a legal medical procedure. The point is that there are people who believe the medical procedure to represent the best health care decision for themselves and found it difficult or impossible to find a provider.

This debate should not be about the morality of abortion or whether it should be legal. This clinic provides a lawful medical service for which there is a need.

Anonymous said...

anon 5:55 wrote - "This debate should not be about the morality of abortion or whether it should be legal."

I guess we should just be mindless robots that allow anything some people want.

To my knowledge the state has never been in the abortion business and should never be allowed to be in it.

Of course its a legal issue and all laws are morals of some people.

illusory tenant said...

It's not clear that the provision of abortions that do not fall within certain statutory exceptions ...

In other words, you don't know whether UWM is to provide abortions that fall without the exceptions.

Wouldn't such knowledge be crucial, without which your statutory invocations are purely speculative?

illusory tenant said...

Thanks goodness we can count on the usual suspects to maintain some semblance of rational discourse on this topic, however:

UPDATE: UW'S CULTURE OF DEATH
- Charlie Sykes

yoSAMite said...

Excellent post. Thanks for the legal information.

reddess said...

anon 5:55

This is a moral post. Go listen to Vicki McKenna's interview with a physician who used to perform second trimester abortions. It aired yesterday
(02/06)and is on podcast (1130 talk radio). Then come back and talk about the need for this medical procedure. Second trimester abortions (D&E) are never done for medical reasons (that is to save mom's life).
When I was a young nurse, one of my first "young" patients in newborn nursery, was a 20 week old premie. At that time, there was no way to attempt to save this little girl. My job? Sit with her as she lay dying. It took over an hour. She struggled, fought, suffered. And noone was attempting to rip off her little limbs or suction out her brain.

Anonymous said...

But let's not pretend that this is a debate about this particular clinic. The debate is that same big picture debate over whether abortion is/should be, as a moral and legal matter, an issue of choice or not.

That's a fine debate but let's pretend to be debating the decision to offer services at this particular clinic. That's just not an intellectually honest approach.

Rick Esenberg said...

IT

The larger dispute is, of course, about whose moral choice it is. Some moral choices are forbidden, such as infanticide (unless you're Peter Singer) or even the decision not to donate to the poor after the state has chosen to fund welfar through taxation. Some of the prohibited choices can be extremely private and fundamental. You can be required to go overseas and kill or be killed.

Obviously there are a whole series of choices that the state ought not to interfere with, but I have never been persuading that killing human beings is one of them.

Anonymous said...

Rick elegantly stated. You will no doubt agree that, for the time being, your view does not reflect the state of the law. I welcome folks to argue till they're blue in the face about this. But let's not muddle things over an argument by proxy, i.e., whether this offering certain services at a specific clinic is good policy or not. This back-and-forth has been about the larger issue, not this clinic.

As an independent issue, the indignant statements aimed at the specific clinic and the related decision to offer services is misguided and unwittingly frustrated. How culpable can an institution be for failing to conduct itself in accordance with what some believe the law should be but is not.

Finally, you are penalized 1 intellectual honesty point. As is virtually always the with debate about abortion, framing the question as being about "killing human beings" snuffs out the question. To be sure, once that premise is accepted, you've won the debate. But of course, your premise is the thing subject to heated debate, at least in terms of the initial moral or religious question.

Bonus point: Where can I find a true "traditionalist" who continues to adhere to Aristotle's notion of "quickening," as the church once did?

Anonymous said...

Anony 4:43 said:

"framing the question as being about "killing human beings"

Have you ever seen a 2nd trimester "fetus". If you had, you would have seen a perfect miniature human being. Its pretty obvious once you get past about 10 weeks gestation that you can't possibly use the "mass of cells" or "reproductive rights" argument.

Dad29 said...

As is virtually always the with debate about abortion, framing the question as being about "killing human beings" snuffs out the question. To be sure, once that premise is accepted, you've won the debate. But of course, your premise is the thing subject to heated debate, at least in terms of the initial moral or religious question.

And the embryo in the womb of the human mother, sired by a human father, is......what?.....exactly?

Bonus point: Where can I find a true "traditionalist" who continues to adhere to Aristotle's notion of "quickening," as the church once did?

Umnnnnhhhh....."traditionalists" always believed that 'quickening' occurred. Your question is?

Oh--you want someone to re-state TA's '4th month' opinion? I submit that TA would be perfectly happy to cede the merits of the argument of Bernard Nathanson, MD.

See, WHEN 'quickening' occurs was not a question--and now that we know it's intstantaneous with conception, well, that's what "traditionalists" argue.

Anonymous said...

You have the constitutional right to bear arms, that doesn't mean that the state needs to run a gun and ammunition shop if the local supplier goes under.

reddess said...

This is in response to noone; it is a rant. I don't believe that many of us are able to remove morality when discussing this clinic providing this particular type of barbaric procedure. I personally don't care if we are discussing one clinic or clinics across the country; abortion is murder and providing it during the second trimester by D&E is horrific. This clinic does not have to "step up" and begin doing D&E's just because abortion is a right that some Justice felt the need to create in the constitution. As the AMA has stated over and over - there is no medical reason to ever perform a D&E. The doc interviewed by Vicki admitted that most second trimester abortions are done for reasons as simple as not wanting to go to prom pregnant...that dress just won't look right. I found it telling that he also stated that his clininc had a huge problem retaining nurses and OR techs in the second trimester procedure rooms - that they usually quit after 1 or 2 weeks. You can bet that most, if not all of these people were pro-choice when they begun their job. I wonder how many of them have moderated their opinions or become pro-life?

Anonymous said...

I respect the folks who have passionately and no doubt in the best of faith expressed their strong feelings about abortion generally and later in a pregnancy.

But this underscores my modest point. Let's not pretend that this is a discussion about a clinic. To quote a respected commentator, this has been "a rant." The only real point made is that some feel so profoundly about this topic that they cannot conceive that another perspective can possibly exist. There's nothing wrong about such a conclusion but it can only be grounded in science or faith. And it ain't based on science.

Dad29 said...

And it ain't based on science

When it is scientifically obvious that abortions kill human beings, then what, exactly, do you call "science"?

Anonymous said...

The left was thrilled when a man killed his wife by stabbing her for having liver cancer, so, it's no surprise they want state provided abortion.

reddess said...

anon 11:18
If I believe that abortion is murder (that is the taking of a human life) and that murder is wrong, how could I entertain the thought of another perspective? I would have to open up to the possibility that some murder is right. That not all human life is precious and in need of protection.

Anonymous said...

Reddess, though I do not share your belief, I understand and respect it. Of course, it leaves no room for debate or discussion about abortion or the clinic whatsoever. My only point on this thread has been that what has been dressed up as debate about the clinic really has been no more nor less than declarations of a particular belief that does not currently represent the state of the law and frustration with that fact.

Anonymous said...

In reference to the clubbing of baby seals, Greenpeace and others on the left used to argue that it doesn't matter whether the seal is human, but whether it can feel pain. For consistency's purposes, shouldn't the same hold true for a fetus? Similarly, imagine the uproar if the owner of, say, a dog was known to partially deliver the dog's puppies and then terminate them by sticking a scissors into the back of the pups' heads/etc. Or a farmer was known to do the same to calves being delivered by her cows. All of society, both on the right and left, would think that such a pet owner or farmer was despicable. However, if it's done to a fetus instead of an animal, the government not only condones it, but will help pay for the procedure.

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:18

What makes this situation even more unpalatable is that the UW system - and therefore its facilities and doctors/this clinic - are in part funded by taxpayer dollars.

Anonymous said...

But this closes the circle. The view that this procedure is "murder" rather than a medical procedure is at odds with the state of the law and medicine. Again, I respect that perspective but think the shock and outrage directed at this once clinic is odd.

Its just not an outrage separate from the larger abortion issue that an institution would conduct itself in accordance with accepted legal and medical perspectives rather than the views of those who think the controlling standards are wrong.

Dad29 said...

Well, Anony, you are correct in this way: State-paid murder of innocents IS a bit shocking to the senses--enough to cause outrage.

Sadly, not enough outrage to inspire pistol-whipping.

Anonymous said...

Pistol-Whippers for Life?

Anonymous said...

What I find outrageous is that the UW Board of Regents has raised tuition every year for as long as I've been in school at the same time that it has cut entire graduate programs (to name just one example), but yet somehow providing abortion services trumps legitimate educational activities. David Walsh and the BoR need to get a clue.