Emotions ran high, as abortion rights took center stage at the State Capitol on Tuesday. A Senate committee held a public hearing on a Republican bill that would forbid UW employees from working part-time at Planned Parenthood’s Madison clinic. The measure targets an agreement that’s been in place for nearly a decade.
The bill would prohibit UW employees from performing abortions or providing training at facilities where abortions are performed, other than hospitals. Republican state Rep. Andre Jacque is the author of the measure. He called the agreement between UW-Madison and Planned Parenthood appalling, and says it needs to be terminated.
“Several full time state employees have had thousands upon thousands of their faculty hours purchased by Planned Parenthood to perform abortions at Planned Parenthood facilities, during which time they contractually remained UW employees though directly responsible to Planned Parenthood. There’s no publicly known comparable relationship anywhere else in the country,” Jacque says.
Jacque was one of a couple dozen people who testified before the Senate Health and Human Services committee. Republican Sen. Leah Vukmir is chair; she says what bothers her about the arrangement, is it uses taxpayer money. She says taxpayers are essentially compensating university employees to prop up Planned Parenthood.
“That’s what we’re talking about here. We really can’t stand for unborn babies being killed and even worse, on the state’s dime,” Vukmir says.
One person who pleaded with the committee to preserve the agreement is Robert Golden, dean of the UW Med School. He says the bill could destroy the university’s OB/GYN residency training program.
“What we want to do more than anything, is to attract the very best and brightest future doctors to come here and train in the state, and if it appears as though there are restrictions that make a program limited in what the faculty based on national standards of excellence can provide, that’s the kind of thing that would frighten people away from coming here,” Golden says.
Golden says he fears that without the training, UW could lose its accreditation, threatening its future. Another opponent is medical student John Lolly. He says the measure would deprive him of necessary experience.
“The school has made it clear that if this bill passes, I will be unable to observe or perform an abortion outside the chaos of an ER setting during my graduate medical education. Dean Golden made clear today that there is no way under this bill, for me to learn the skills necessary to perform abortions that are required to save the life of the mother,” Lolly says.
The committee didn’t take action on the bill Tuesday, but plans to do so at a later date. The legislature is heading into a floor period in early November.