Wisconsin is about to functionally lose one of its five abortion providers, not because of the admitting privileges law that threatened to close several of the state’s abortion clinics earlier this year, but because the clinic was bought out by a hospital that will no longer allow abortions to be performed at the facility.
As of August 1, Ob/Gyn Associates of Green Bay will be taken over by Bellin Health System, and, per the terms of the buy-out agreement, abortion care will no longer be offered at the clinic. USA Today reports that Ob/Gyn Associates owner Dr. Robert DeMott is currently the only physician providing safe abortion care in Green Bay. “Consequently, as of August 1, 2013, no physician in Green Bay will be providing abortion services to any patients,” Dr. DeMott said in a statement.
Safe abortion access has long been a concern for Wisconsin reproductive rights advocates, because currently there are only five clinics in the state, and only two of those—Ob/Gyn Associates and the Planned Parenthood clinic in Appleton—are located outside the major metropolitan areas of Madison and Milwaukee. With the loss of Ob/Gyn Associates, the Appleton clinic will be the sole provider for residents in the northeast region of the state and in the Upper Peninsula. For many, driving to Minnesota may be more convenient.
The concern about safe abortion access increased when Republican Gov. Scott Walker signed Act 37, a mandatory ultrasound and admitting privileges bill, into law. Admitting privileges do nothing to enhance patient safety but they do act as a means to shut down abortion clinics—two issues that led the courts to block that portion of the law from going into effect in the state.
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As USA Today reported, Ob/Gyn Associates “has been the site of nearly daily picketing by anti-abortion protesters.”
Jim Ball, the director of Wisconsin’s anti-choice “40 Days for Life” campaign, told Fox News that he will be planning one last Saturday protest at the clinic. Then he could move his protesters to another clinic in the state. He said of the injunction against Act 37, “Abortion is to women what tobacco is to lungs. We will continue to peacefully pray for Planned Parenthood and all those involved in the abortion industry who—for reasons of their own—lie to women about health care.”