"...to guarantee the safety and security that all patients deserve."
Back in May, I wrote about a letter from the attorney general's office that was being circulated by anti-choice advocates that seemed to indicate that UW Health was going back on their plans to provide second-trimester abortions at the Madison Surgery Center.
It looks like the news is now official, with the center releasing a statement finally explaining their reasons for canceling the plan:
The system issued a statement late Monday saying the "open and multi-purpose nature" of the surgery center makes it hard to guarantee patient safety.
In a statement released Monday afternoon, the system cited patient safety and privacy as the primary reason forcing the change.
This confirms suspicions that were raised when the letter initially emerged that the frequent protests being staged outside of the center -- and the general bullying tactics of anti-choice groups in town -- were primary reasons for the stoppage.
As the statement notes, the safety of patients entering and exiting the building could not be guaranteed and that, I think, is a perfectly reasonable cause for concern. If the folks who show up with mangled fetus photos (visible to every passer-by, regardless of age or association with the clinic) had any shame to begin with, I would say they should be ashamed of the way they harass the everyday men and women who have cause to go to and from these buildings.
But the reason they do that is right there in the mission statement: they want to take away your choice. Those working the most fervently to tell women what to do with their own bodies have no interest in allowing anyone to make their own decisions. They've concluded that they and they alone know what's best for everyone else. They act with a moral certitude that, left unchecked, can become downright dangerous.
Just ask the friends and relatives of Dr. George Tiller.
UW Health's decision regarding the Madison Surgery Center (and any alternative site) is bad news for area women's reproductive health. And it's just one disheartening story in the midst of the overall chipping away of the hard-won rights of Roe v. Wade.
I understand why some people are against abortion. I respect their decision not to have one in the event of an unexpected or complicated pregnancy. But it is their decision, and should be left up to them alone. It'd be nice to see the effort and resources of the anti-choice crowd turned toward funding and spreading better, comprehensive sexual education to the populace. It seems like a natural extension of their desire to lower the number of abortions performed.
More and more, however, we don't seem to be dealing with reason. The extreme voices are drowning out the rest, and the result has been little to no access to abortion services, especially for low income and rural women. Heck, even those living in the city of Madison don't have guaranteed access, and I have a sneaking suspicion that, with Republicans ascendant in state government, things will only get worse as the GOP seeks to legislate our lady parts.
The people who protest at clinics walk a fine line between freedom of assembly and protest, and outright harassment. All too often they step gleefully over it, too, as can be attested by those who do the hard work of providing safe escort into the clinics. And when egged on by talking heads that advocate bullying and even murder in order to "get their way," things can escalate to violence all too quickly.
This is why the Madison Surgery Center is doing what it's doing. Unfortunately, opting to provide a needed, safe medical service would have guaranteed the clinic daily protesters and threats to the security of its employees and the patients.
You have to stand up to a bully before you can make the taunts and abuse stop, though. Pro-choice people need to make sure that this steady erosion of our rights (and ability to exercise them without undue burden) is stopped before it goes any further.
I'll let The Daily Show's Samantha Bee lay out the crux of the argument, and the disconnect coming from the anti-choice crowd, for me:
Worth watching: Overture Center edition
Brenda Konkel has been tirelessly blogging the Common Council discussions about the future of the Overture Center. The newest entries regarding the most recent version of the plan are here and here, though it looks like even Konkel is confused as to how it's substantially different from what had been outlined before.
In general, it looks like the city is backing away from taking over ownership, releasing it instead to private holding by the 201 State Foundation and/or the Overture Development Corporation -- with the city giving an annual grant of $2 million to help cover ongoing costs and a series of caveats designed to ensure transparency in and oversight of future operations. Read all of the "Version 5" agreement here.
According to Konkel"s write-up, there's apparently language in there about "local promoters on use of Overture, no exclusivity," about which I'm terribly curious. Does this mean there will be more effort at bringing in and working with local promoters and artists? This has been done in the past but with the major stumbling block of locals not being able to afford use of the OC. I'll be interested to see how, if at all, that's addressed -- and just how programming might evolve in general.
Same goes for the transition of employees, who will be going from being city to private workers and, depending on how the new owners roll, may well lose substantial benefits and pay because of it. That's to say nothing of the union situation in terms of the people actually working the shows. How that will all shake out, I have no clue.
Again, I want to see the OC succeed. It's a building with great potential but also a history of serious abuse, which can often mean a long -- and difficult -- road to recovery.